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Conference committee hatches farm bill deal; vote possible this week

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An agreement among negotiators on Capitol Hill may bring an end to the long road to a new farm bill.

As Forum News Service reports, members of a conference committee that reached a deal Monday think the bill has enough support to gain approval in both the House and Senate.

According to the report the agreement repeals a program of direct payments to farmers but strengthens crop insurance and other risk management tools. It also keeps the existing sugar program largely intact, and eliminates nearly 100 outdated or duplicate programs.

One of the sticking points in House-Senate negotiations has been the size of cuts to the food stamp program. The Associated Press reports the major cuts favored by the Republican-led House were scaled back to 1 percent. That's down from 5 percent in the original House bill, but is about twice what the Senate had sought.

The AP says the agreement on a five-year policy cuts spending by about $2.3 billion per year compared to current levels.

The farm bill has been languishing on Capitol Hill for more than two years, in a process that dates back to a time when Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson chaired the House Agriculture Committee. Peterson says his reservations about some provisions in the bill are outweighed by the need for certainty in the country's ag and nutrition programs.

AgWeek reports a vote on the conference committee bill is expected in the House on Wednesday.

The newspaper also has a link to the conference report.

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