WASHINGTON (AP) — Cuts to food stamps, continued subsidies to farmers and victories for animal rights advocates. The massive, five-year farm bill heading toward final passage this week has broad implications for just about every American, from the foods we eat to what we pay for them.
Support for farmers through the subsidies included in the legislation helps determine the price of food and what is available. And money for food stamps helps the neediest Americans who might otherwise go hungry.
The legislation could reach President Barack Obama this week. The House already has passed the bipartisan measure and the Senate was scheduled to pass the bill Tuesday after the chamber voted to move forward on the legislation Monday evening.
Five things you should know about the farm bill:
WHERE THE MONEY GOES:
Most of the bill's almost $100 billion-a-year price tag goes to the nation's food stamp program, now known as SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. One in seven Americans, or about 47 million people, participates in the program. The legislation cuts food stamps by about $800 million, or 1 percent, by cracking down on states that seek to boost individual food stamp benefits by giving people small amounts of federal heating assistance that they don't need. Much of the rest of the money goes to farm subsidies and programs to protect environmentally sensitive lands.
Farmers will continue to receive generous federal subsidies that help them stay in business in an unpredictable environment, but through revamped programs. The bill eliminates a fixed $4.5 billion-a-year subsidy called direct payments, which are paid to farmers whether they farm or not. New subsidies would require farmers to incur losses before they could collect from the federal government. The bill would also overhaul dairy and cotton subsidies and transition them into similar insurance-style programs. Most farmers would pick between a program that would pay out when revenue dips or another that pays out when prices drop.
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