Farm Bill passes

President Obama on Friday is scheduled to sign into law a new nearly $1 trillion federal farm bill that has lots of things for lots of people to love or hate.

Obama said: “As with any compromise, the farm bill isn’t perfect — but on the whole, it will make a positive difference not only for the rural economies that grow America’s food, but for our nation.”

U.S. Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, called the bill a “monstrosity.” Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group called a transfer of federal spending from direct payments to farmers to crop insurance subsidies “a bait and switch.”

According to the New York Times and other media accounts, the bill – over the next decade — will:

  • Cut overall expenditures by $17 billion from current spending levels.
  •  Reduce food stamp benefits by $800 million per year, about 1 percent.
  •  Cut $5 billion a year in direct subsidies to farmers.
  • Cut overall conservation spending by about $6 billion, about 10 percent.
  • Increase crop insurance subsidies for farmers by $7 billion over 10 years.

But the bill, which passed the Senate on Tuesday, was praised by some conservation groups because it will restore a requirement that farmers seeking crop insurance coverage follow certain minimum conservation practices. The Freshwater Society had advocated for that so-called “conservation compliance” provision in the legislation.

Read the New York Times coverage of the bill. Read an Associated Press article, published in the Star Tribune. Read an Environmental Working Group statement on the bill. Read a good description of the conservation compliance provision, written before final passage, from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Read a Ducks Unlimited statement praising the conservation compliance.