Subsidies included in farm bill compromise
The compromise farm bill announced Monday by congressional negotiators sets policy for food stamps and farm programs. The bill would cut food stamps by around $800 million a year and continue generous farm subsidies. Agriculture programs in the bill:
• The end of so-called direct payments, paid to farmers whether they farm or not. The payments now cost around $4.5 billion a year.
• A new revenue insurance subsidy that would pay farmers in the event of “shallow losses,” or revenue losses incurred before their paid crop insurance kicks in. That program might kick in sooner than previously thought as some crop prices have dropped in recent months.
• A separate subsidy program would trigger payments when crop prices drop. This is similar to current subsidies, though the new programs would kick in sooner, especially for cotton and rice, the crops that depend the most on the direct payments that would be phased out. Producers would have to choose between these subsidies or the revenue insurance.
• Stricter limits on how much money an individual farmer can receive — $125,000 annually on all payments and loans, when some were previously unrestricted. The agreement is less strict than either the House or Senate bills, which had put limits on how much a farmer could receive from individual programs. Language that would limit how many people in a farm operation may receive such payments was also passed by both chambers but taken out of the compromise bill, which would kick the issue to the Agriculture Department.
• More money for government-subsidized crop insurance programs. A Senate amendment that would have lowered crop insurance payouts for the wealthiest farmers was struck from the final version.