WASHINGTON — The Senate gave final legislative approval Tuesday to a five-year farm bill aimed at reforming crop subsidy programs and extending food aid to low-income Americans.
The bill passed 68 to 32, and President Barack Obama plans is planning to sign it. Obama said Tuesday that the legislation “will build on the historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, create new jobs and opportunities and protect the most vulnerable Americans.”
Supporters praised the bill's elimination of guaranteed cash payments to some farmers regardless of whether crop prices are high, and even whether a crop was planted. The emphasis will now shift more to crop insurance, though new programs were added to protect farm income.
Both Oklahoma senators opposed the measure.
The senators' votes — combined with the Oklahoma members' votes in the House last week — marked the first time in nearly 30 years that a majority of the Oklahoma delegation opposed a farm bill; there have been six different farm bills in that span.
The last time was in 1985, when the delegation voted unanimously against that year's farm bill, complaining that it would result in crop surpluses that would drive down prices.
On the new farm bill, which carries a 10-year price tag of nearly $1 trillion, four Oklahoma lawmakers voted in opposition, with three in support.
Inhofe opposes food stamp costs
Some of the Oklahoma lawmakers voting against the bill raised concerns about farm subsidies, but all complained about the amount of money going to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. Nearly 80 percent of the bill's cost will go to food stamps.