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Senate Passes Farm Bill

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July 2, 2012

Senate Passes Farm Bill

By: Nate

With a vote of 64-35, the Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, commonly known as the 2012 Farm Bill, last week. The proposed legislation, a continuation of previous farm bills, will appropriate funds and set policy for most of the agricultural sector over the next five years. Roughly 80 percent of the bill’s costs are devoted to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. The Act also focuses on farm subsidies, crop insurance, energy, forestry and school lunches, among other topics. The estimated cost of the bill is $969 billion over the next 10 years, but it should reduce the federal deficit by $23 billion over the same period.

A major change to the bill concerns the focus on a crop insurance program that would replace many of the subsidies that are currently granted to farmers. This would provide money to farmers during seasons with poor harvests but avoid granting price supports in years with high profits.

The House Agriculture Committee will hold a vote on July 11 for their proposed version of the Farm Bill. Whereas the Senate seeks to cut about $4 billion from SNAP over the next ten years, the House aims to slash up to $15 billion. The House also wants to retain more of the current subsidy programs. They hope the bill can reduce the federal deficit by about $30 billion over the next 10 years.

The bill has a number of sections important for agriculture education and education in general.  Most of the sections pertaining to education either maintain grant funding at the current levels or reduce grant funding.  This could limit the educational resources available for promoting and sustaining some programs.

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