The House of Representatives last week overwhelmingly passed the
sweeping measure that trims food stamps for the poor, expands
federal crop insurance, consolidates agricultural conservation
programs and ends direct payments to farmers.
The 72-22 Senate vote in favor of advancing the bill suggests it
should have no trouble passing the Democratic-led chamber when it
comes up for a final vote, which could come on Tuesday.
The White House has said President Barack Obama would sign it into
"This is a new kind of farm bill designed to meet new challenges of
a changing world," Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie
Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat and one of the four principal
negotiators of the legislation, said on the Senate floor before the
"We are also making major reforms, eliminating unnecessary, and
unjustified programs to cut government spending and to increase the
integrity of farm programs," she said.
The $956 billion legislation is expected to save about $16.6 billion
over 10 years compared with current funding, according to the
Congressional Budget Office. Using a different scoring,
congressional leaders put the savings at $23 billion.
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The bill, which is supposed to be passed every five years, is more
than a year overdue after congressional negotiators struggled to
forge a compromise.
About $8 billion in savings over 10 years comes from cuts to the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food
stamps, which accounts for more than three-quarters of the bill's
spending. The program provides funds to about 47 million low-income
people to buy food.
The food stamp cut was well below the $40 billion reduction
advocated by the Republican-led House, but still double the amount
originally supported by the Senate.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; editing by Peter Cooney)
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