The farm bill that would broaden the coverage has now received the approval from a U.S. panel.
The Senate Agriculture Committee has just approved its version of the farm bill – the House is debating another – which would expand the reach of the federally subsidized crop insurance program and that will cost approximately $500 billion over a period of ten years.
The bill will also make some limited cuts on the spending for the food stamps that are issued to the poor.
The Senate bill is one thousand pages long and is now headed to the Senate floor for debate. It is expected that the vote on the bill will occur as early as this month. Similarly, the House Agriculture Committee has also been facing its own version of the farm bill. This farm law for five years is already well overdue following a 2012 election year deadlock.
The Senate bill’s expansion of the crop insurance program would be one part of a long line of changes.
Though crop insurance would be expanded, there will also be a number of other farm subsidies that would undergo changes if the bill should pass. Among the most notable of these changes would have to do with the direct payment to farmer subsidy that currently costs approximately $5 billion per year. Reformers have been taking aim at that subsidy for a long time now, and this bill would bring those payments to an end.
New crop insurance programs would be created for peanut and cotton growers to help to guarantee revenue. Moreover, another coverage would be formed in order to compensate farmers if they should find that their other produce revenues fall by over 10 percent.
According to the chairperson of the Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow (D – Michigan), the bill would generate “significant savings”, which would total approximately $24 billion over the next decade.
While the crop insurance changes will be helping with savings, cuts to food stamps will rein things in by an additional $4 billion. Conservation spending would be reduced by a comparable amount to that, while traditional farm subsidies would see reductions of around $17 billion.