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Farm Bill Stalled in U.S. Senate by Stalemate on Amendments

The U.S. Senate has delayed consideration of a farm bill that would cut agricultural programs by $23.6 billion over 10 years because lawmakers couldn’t agree on how many amendments may be offered.

The bill may be picked up again next week if a deal on amendments is reached, Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said today in remarks on the Senate floor. The chamber will have no more votes this week, he said. The delay in the bill, which is being criticized in the House of Representatives for cutting farm payments too deeply, complicates efforts to pass a five-year reauthorization of all Department of Agriculture programs before they expire Sept. 30.

The bill, which would end direct payments to growers as part of the biggest change in U.S. farm-subsidy policy in decades, is a target for budget cutters because of farm profits and the highest-ever expenditures on food stamps. Net farm income this year will be $91.7 billion, the second-highest ever, according to the USDA. Spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, the department’s biggest expense, reached a record $75.7 billion last year, double the level of four years ago.

The bill is S. 3240.

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