U.S. House approves farm bill, Senate expected to follow suit


The U.S. House passed a nearly $100 billion-a-year, compromise farm bill Wednesday morning by a 251-166 vote, the Associated Press reports.

The long-overdue bill was sent to the Democratic-run Senate, where it's also expected to pass, Reuters reports. Pres. Barack Obama says he'd sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

One of the most debated issues was funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. The Associated Press reports the legislation cut $800 million, about 1 percent, a year from the program.

But some Democrats say the cut is still too steep, especially after recipients already experienced a reduction in assistance last October due to the expiration of a 2009 temporary boost in funding.

The bill provides a $200 million increase in financing to food banks, though many said it won't likely offset the expected higher demand for food, the New York Times reports.

According the Associated Press, some conservatives argue that the cuts to the program are still too low and the overall bill spent too much money. Sixty-three Republicans voted against it.

The legislation continues to heavily subsidize major crops like corn, soybeans, wheat, rice and cotton, while shifting some money toward government-subsidized crop insurance.

A nearly $5-billion a year subsidy known as "direct payments," which are paid to farmers and landowners whether they grow crops or not, were eliminated.

Reuters says the bill also establishes permanent disaster assistance for livestock producers.

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