Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky added a bare-bones version of a farm bill extension that didn't include money for any of the agriculture leaders' top priorities and renewed other farm programs without any new funding.
The result, the aides said, was a farm bill extension that would keep major programs going but didn't spend any new money. Missing were dollars for some organic programs, environmental programs and several different energy programs for encouraging renewable fuels. Many of those programs were renewed, but without any money.
The reaction from farm-state lawmakers was swift. Stabenow went to the Senate floor called the new bill "absolutely outrageous." Peterson said farm-state leaders had been "disrespected." Stabenow, as well as Lucas, ended up voting for it, Peterson against.
The National Farmers Union issued a statement saying it was "left out in the cold." The long-powerful National Corn Growers Association's statement said the group is "tired of the endless excuses and lack of accountability."
Direct payments, a subsidy that costs $5 billion annually and is paid to farmers whether they farm or not, were retained in the agreement. Both a Senate bill passed in June and a House Agriculture Committee bill passed in July had cut those payments after a consensus in the farm community that those subsidies would be eliminated and redirected.
"That is amazing to me, I have to say. That is absolutely amazing to me. I want to hear someone justify that on the Senate floor," Stabenow said.
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