Under the new program, Agriculture Risk Coverage, farmers would be required to practice land, water and wildlife stewardship to qualify for payments, and revenue protection would respond to low prices and poor yields. The previous program only responded to low prices, Abbott reports. The Senate draft would also cut conservation by 10 percent and crop subsidy outlays by 19 percent. Nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps, would be cut by $4 billion. Farmers making more than $900,000 wouldn't be eligible for subsidies. The previous earnings limit is $1.25 million.
The full Senate committee will vote this week on whether or not to pass the draft on to the House. But Jim Abrams of The Associated Press reports Senators have to satisfy many different groups first, including Northern corn growers, Southern cotton farmers, insurance companies, banks, nutrition groups and environmentalists. The most difficult hurdle to pass, though, will be "narrowing the gap between the Democratic Senate and House Republicans taking aim at the food-stamp program that comprises some 80 percent of the bill’s spending." House Republicans have vowed to cut the program by $13 billion a year, and some Democrats have said that plan is likely to keep a new Farm Bill from passing this year. (Read more)