reports. Approval of the bill is seen as a major victory for Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and ranking member Collin Peterson, left, "who had risked angering factions in their own parties to forge a compromise bill," Wasson writes. Lucas has said he will now immediately push for a full House floor vote, but his party leaders appear uncertain because of pressure from their right wing for more cuts in the food-stamp program.
The bill is estimated to save $35 billion over 10 years, mostly through major changes in commodity programs and cuts to food stamps, which are about 80 percent of its spending, David Rogers of Politico reports. Direct cash subsidies would end and be replaced by a new form of crop insurance, but target prices as a safety net, which are important to Southern farmers, would be kept. Five Democrats joined Republicans in a 31-15 vote upholding $16.5 billion savings over 10 years from food stamps. In a "pivotal" move, Rogers writes, Alabama Republican Martha Roby's amendment tightening procedures for verifying the legal status of immigrants receiving food stamps was upheld.
The strong bipartisan vote puts more pressure on House Republican leaders to give the bill a floor vote before the August recess, Rogers writes: "Seldom has a major bill moved so far in Congress with so little attention. But defying its doubters, it can no longer be ignored politically — with Iowa in play in the presidential election and the current farm program expiring Sept. 30."
The Environmental Working Group, a leading critic of how farm subsidies are structured, called the bill "the worst piece of food and farm legislation in recent memory. With the U.S government in a deep fiscal crisis, the committee’s farm bill increases unlimited subsidies for the largest and most profitable farm businesses. As millions of families struggle to put food on the table, the bill cuts funding for critical nutrition assistance programs by $16.1 billion. And with water, land and wildlife habitat under unprecedented assault by industrial agriculture, the committee’s bill slashes environmental programs by more than $6 billion while gutting regulation of pesticides, forestry, and genetically modified crops." (Read more)