Claremore Daily Progress

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June 10, 2013

Senate set to pass half-trillion dollar farm bill

(Continued)

WASHINGTON D.C. —

Stabenow argued the amendment would result in fewer people buying insurance and undercut a separate provision in the bill that would require farmers buying crop insurance to comply with certain environmental standards on their land.
Currently the government pays for an average 62 percent of crop insurance premiums and also subsidizes the companies that sell the insurance. The overall bill expands crop insurance for many crops and also creates a program to compensate farmers for smaller, or “shallow,” revenue losses before the paid insurance kicks in.
The crop insurance expansion is likely to benefit Midwestern corn and soybean farmers, who use crop insurance more than other farmers. The bill would also boost subsidies for Southern rice and peanut farmers, lowering the threshold for those farms to receive government help.
The help for rice and peanuts was not in last year’s bill but was added this year after the agriculture panel gained a new top Republican, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran. Critics, including the former top Republican on the committee, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, said the new policy could guarantee that the rice and peanut farmers’ profits are average or above average.
The bill also would:
— Overhaul dairy policy by creating a new insurance program for dairy producers, eliminating other dairy subsidies and price supports. The new policy includes a market stabilization program that could dictate production cuts when oversupply drives down prices. The program faced little opposition in the Senate but a similar overhaul in the House bill is expected to face resistance in that chamber, where House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has called the new stabilization program “Soviet-style.”
— Make modest changes to the way international food aid is delivered, a much scaled-back version of an overhaul proposed by President Barack Obama earlier this year. Senators adopted an amendment that would slightly boost dollars to buy locally-grown food close to needy areas abroad. Currently, most food aid is grown in the United States and shipped to developing countries, an approach the Obama administration says is inefficient but that has support among farm-state members in Congress.
— Consolidate programs to protect environmentally-sensitive land and reduce spending on those programs.
— Expand Agriculture Department efforts to prevent illegal trafficking of food stamp benefits.

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