In a bipartisan vote, the Senate allowed the farm bill to move from committee to the full Senate floor, clearing a path for a potential July vote.
Earlier this week, in a rare display of bipartisanship, the Senate voted 90-8 to bring the 2012 Farm Bill to a full Senate debate, allowing Senators to add amendments and debate controversial provisions. This bipartisan move was especially rare given the current hostile climate on Capitol Hill. The infighting between Democrats and Republicans had led some farmers to worry that a new farm bill was not even going to make it out of committee.
Some budget hawks, however, are unhappy with the direction of the bill, particularly the amount of spending it authorizes. The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 contains nearly $1 trillion in spending over the next ten years. While Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow claims that the bill eliminates about $24 billion in total spending, some opponents claim that it does not go far enough.
According to the advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste, the bill is like “Whack-a-Mole,” transferring wasteful spending from direct payment subsidies to strengthened crop insurance programs. They also criticized the Senate for not following President Obama’s spending recommendation or those produced by the House of Representative, who proposed $32 billion and $180 billion in spending reductions respectively.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer