Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bid to lower farm subsidy cap falls short in Senate

The U.S. Senate voted 56 to 43 today to limit farm program payments to $250,000 per producer, but that was four votes short of the 60 needed to for passage, under a bipartisan agreement to avoid filibusters.

Without the change, sought by small farmers, environmentalists and international development groups, the limit will remain $360,000. However, the bill "would require payments to be tracked to each individual, end the practice of collecting subsidies indirectly and eliminate 'commodity certificates' that can be used to evade the $360,000 a year limit set in 2002," reports Charles Abbott of Reuters. (Read more)

Key to the amendment's defeat were senators from states that grow rice and cotton. "Cotton and rice interests [said] their producers stand to lose more than that in a year if a crop goes bad," writes Bob Meyer of Brownfield Network. "A similar amendment passed the Senate back in 2002 when the current farm bill was being debated only to be removed in the conference committee." (Read more)

A final Senate vote on the bill is expected Friday.

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