Senate to Begin U.S. Farm Bill Debate This Week, Stabenow Says

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said the full chamber this week will begin considering a new farm bill that represents “the most significant reform in agricultural policy in decades.”

The measure, approved by Stabenow’s panel in April, would end direct payments to farmers. These subsidies, which are paid regardless of crop prices, have become a target for congressional budget cutters. At the same time, the bill would add to and expand insurance programs to compensate growers for weather disasters or if commodity prices collapse.

“The era of direct payments is over,” Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, told reporters today in a conference call.

The next farm bill also will authorize funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs for the next five years. Stabenow said her bill would provide $23 billion in “real cuts” in government spending if scored over a 10-year period, mostly by eliminating direct payments. The current legislation expires Sept. 30.

The bill is S. 3240.

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