After the New Year, talk in Congress shifted from the budget to the Farm Bill which sought to end what was deemed wasteful subsidies to farmers and also trim the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program budget. Monday, members of the House and Senate Agricultural committees announced that they had finally reached a deal on the bill that cuts neither SNAP benefits or the farm subsidies as much as expected.
One program ending for farmers are “direct payments,” which are subsidies sent to farmers whether they grow crops or not. Instead, farmers can get, according to The Washington Post, a “new revenue insurance subsidy that would pay farmers in the event of…revenue losses incurred before their paid crop insurance kicks in.” Alternatively, farmers could also participate in a program that would trigger subsidized payments if crop prices drop. The bill puts a cap of $125,000 in federal payments and loans where there previously were more generous limits or no limits at all.
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Although, it’s not the farm business that might keep the farm bill from passing, but instead angry House conservatives who don’t believe that the cuts to the SNAP program are drastic enough. The deal cuts $8 billion from the program over the next ten years, and families could see their monthly food budget cut by “as much as $90 a month.” However, House Republicans had hoped to cut about $39 billion from the program and it remains unclear if they believe the current reduction is enough to pass it.
The bill, which still costs $100 billion per year for five years, does cut total spending by about $2.3 billion. While the poor don’t have a special interest group lobbying for them, meat and poultry farmers do and they are opposed to the bill. Specifically, they object to a measure that demands labeling on meat listing the country of origin.