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Farm Bill Drafting Now About a Week Away
USAgNet - 05/08/2013

Congress will begin writing a new, $500 billion U.S. farm law next week, the head of the Senate Agriculture Committee said on Tuesday, even as calls mounted for deeper cuts in farm subsidies and food stamp spending. According to Reuters, the Senate panel has scheduled a bill-drafting session for May 14. Its House of Representatives counterpart, unofficially, aims to start writing its version on May 15.

The bills are expected to boost crop support rates, expand the crop insurance program, reduce the scope of land-idling programs and cut spending on food aid to the poor.

Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan has said the Senate bill would cut farm bill outlays by $23 billion over 10 years. The House bill is expected to aim for savings of $35 billion over a decade.

Passage of the farm bill is seven months overdue and counting, after an election-year stalemate in the House prevented passage of a bill last autumn.

Stabenow's proposal would shave $4 billion from food stamps, compared with the $20 billion that House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican, has targeted.

Farm lobbyists said Stabenow was expected to propose higher "target" prices for grains and oilseeds, growing chiefly in the Midwest, to satisfy objections from Southern rice and peanut growers. The bill also would shield growers from fluctuations in crop revenue, an approach backed by corn and soybean growers.

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