Senate passes Farm Bill; Cochran touts $4B in savings

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate has passed a new farm bill.

The Senate yesterday approved the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (S.954), major legislation that reforms and extends programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through 2018. The bill was approved on a bipartisan 66-27 vote.

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, said, “American agriculture producers deserve the certainty that comes with a strong five-year farm bill. I’m pleased that we’ve come up with a bill that will meet that need.”

The Senate-passed bill eliminates almost 100 federal programs and saves $24 billion relative to the extension of the 2008 farm bill baseline, according to a release from Cochran’s office. Overall, it addresses farm income support, land conservation, trade promotion, rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture, credit, crop insurance and food and nutrition.

The Senate farm bill eliminates direct payments to farmers, reforms crop insurance, and limits payments to producers. The bill achieves $4 billion in savings by addressing waste, fraud, and abuse in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

In addition, S.954 consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13 programs and reduces spending on those programs by an estimated $5.6 billion over the next 10 years. The legislation creates greater flexibility for federal and state foresters to meet stewardship, restoration and management challenges.

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