Thursday, April 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Q&A: What’s in the trillion-dollar farm bill?

WASHINGTON — The nearly 1,000-page compromise farm bill is designed to have something for everyone. There’s more money for crop insurance popular in the Midwest, higher peanut and rice subsidies for Southern farmers and the renewal of federal land payments for Western states.

The bill also sets policy for the almost $80 billion-a-year food stamp program, which has doubled in cost in the last five years. Conservatives wanted to cut the program by as much as 5 percent, but the bill would only trim the program by $800 million a year, or 1 percent.

Some questions and answers about the farm bill and its politics:

Q: What is the farm bill?

A: It’s a wide-ranging bill, usually written every five years, that sets policy for government farm subsidies and some of the country’s nutrition programs, including food stamps. It also sets dollar levels for the Agriculture Department and subsidizes farmers and rural communities for a multitude of things — from protecting environmentally sensitive land to international food aid to rural communications services.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: The Congressional Budget Office estimates that farm and nutrition programs will cost almost a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Broken down by year, the bill is expected to cost around $96 billion annually.

Q: Where does most of that money go?

A: Almost 80 percent of the money will go to food stamps for the needy — now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. It has more than doubled in cost since 2008 due to the economic downturn, fluctuating food prices and eligibility requirements loosened in the 2009 economic stimulus bill. In 2013, an average of 47.6 million people used SNAP at a cost of $79.6 billion. Around 15 percent of the money in the farm bill is designated for farm subsidies and crop insurance subsidies. The rest would go to conservation, rural development, renewable energy and other farm programs.

Q: Where’s the support in Congress?

A: The farm bill has always passed with the support of a coalition of rural lawmakers interested in farm programs and urban lawmakers with high numbers of voters in their districts on food stamps. Several decades ago, lawmakers combined nutrition programs with agricultural supports in the farm bill to gain those urban votes. The number of rural lawmakers has dwindled in recent years, though, and the escalating cost of food stamps threatened the bill this time around as conservatives say the SNAP program has spiraled out of control and needs to be cut.

Q: How did they decide on a cut of $800 million a year?

A: It was a compromise between the Senate bill, which would have cut $400 million a year, and the House bill, which would have cut $4 billion a year. The White House had threatened to veto the House bill. The money would come from ending the practice in some states of giving recipients a minimal amount of heating assistance in order to trigger higher food stamp benefits. Some critics see that as an abuse of the system.

Q: Who is opposing it?

A: Conservatives have said the food stamp cuts aren’t high enough and liberals have said they are too high. Some conservatives also have criticized the amount of farm subsidies in the bill, and the groups Club for Growth and Heritage Action have said they will use it against Republicans who vote for it in primary campaigns.

Q: So will the House pass the bill?

A: House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., says he thinks it will pass. The bill is designed to help agriculture and rural communities across the country and supporters hope the food stamp cut is low enough to draw a good number of Democratic votes. But the House defeated an earlier version of the bill in June when conservatives revolted over the food stamp spending, so the outcome is never certain.

Q: What about the Senate?

A: The Senate vote is more predictable. That chamber passed its version of the farm bill with a strong bipartisan majority last summer and the food stamp cuts are closer to the Senate bill.

Q: What about farm subsidies?

A: The bill would eliminate subsidies called direct payments, which cost about $4.5 billion a year and are paid to farmers whether they farm or not. But it uses some of those savings to create new farm subsidies and expand crop insurance.

Q: Why does the government subsidize farmers?

A: Farm-state lawmakers have traditionally argued that farmers need a government safety net because agriculture is a tough, unpredictable industry and the nation’s food supply is dependent on family farms staying in business. Critics say too much of the money goes to wealthy farmers and large, corporate agribusinesses.

Q: Are there overall savings in the bill?

A: The bill would save around $1.65 billion annually overall, according to a Congressional Budget Office document released Tuesday. The amount is less than the $2.3 annually the agriculture committees originally projected the bill would save; an aide to Lucas said the difference was due to how they calculated budget savings from recent automatic across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration.

Lucas and his Senate counterpart, Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, have touted the savings in trying to sell the bill to colleagues.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 3 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Travis lines up 2 days of aviation excellence

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Congressman talks Travis, water

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Appreciate how good we have it now

By Angela Borchert | From Page: A2

 
Review set for $2M pizza case in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Cherokee Nation to offer photo IDs at Rush Ranch

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

 
Dixon May Fair has deals on advance tickets

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Accused machete attacker testifies in trial

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

 
Garamendi talks love, pro football and Peace Corps

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

All Things Art Festival organizers seek artists, vendors

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Author to sign books at Vacaville Museum

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Kroc Center women schedule inaugural Taster Tea

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Theme park welcomes seal pup

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Mother’s Day fair returns to Suisun waterfront

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

 
Docents to lead paddling tour in marsh

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Juneteenth committee extends vendors, exhibitors deadline

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Congressional Art Competition is back

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Spilled tomato juice case set for trial

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Report: Shots fired from car on Clay Bank Road

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5

Fairfield police log: April 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: April 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: April 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Syrian activists accuse Assad of new gas attacks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Airport official: Teen had no clue he was in Maui

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Murder charge for Vallejo man in head-on crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California bill reignites affirmative action fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Andy Lopez protest leads to school campus lockdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Navy Cross bestowed on heroic Marine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Bashtag: NYPD Twitter campaign backfires

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Soldier convicted in WikiLeaks case gets new name

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Gun carry rights expanded in Ga. under new law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Rail safety effort marred by squabbling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Small Wyoming town evacuated after gas explosion

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Camilla’s brother dies in US after head injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Lawyer: US man held in Cuba seeks to go home soon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Captain who left doomed ferry had 40 years at sea

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Russian social media CEO quits, flees country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Amid Russia warning, Ukraine is in a security bind

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Palestinian rivals to try again for unity deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
State senators get ethics training after scandals

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Some Earth Day boos and cheers

By Jay Ambrose | From Page: A11

 
Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

Be the first and give specifics

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
What we can do about crime

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11

Castro at odds with mentor on deportations

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

When Joe’s mad at me, he also ignores my 7-year-old son

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes for April 24, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Amazon snares classic shows in deal with HBO

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Jodie Foster weds artist Alexandra Hedison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Singer Chris Brown’s DC trial delayed for months

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Performing dogs go big after $1 million TV prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Sports

Girls soccer update: Armijo, Vanden on way to playoffs

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Mustangs swim to sweep of Indians

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Warriors, Clippers to meet in Oakland for Game 3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Sharks confident with chance to sweep LA Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Perez helps Rangers sweep A’s with 3-0 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Party a century in the making for Wrigley Field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

A’s reject 10-year Coliseum lease offer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prep softball: Vanden rolls to 14-0 win over Fairfield

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Prep badminton: Unbeaten Mustangs cruise past Crushers

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Prep boys golf: Vikings suffer SCAC loss to Panthers

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Sanchez’s slam in 11th helps Giants beat Rox 12-10

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Prep track: Armijo girls get win in MEL 4-way meet

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Emmert supports more efficient, effective NCAA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Phelps having fun in his return to swimming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Suns’ Dragic honored as NBA’s Most Improved Player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Seahawks to open NFL season vs. Packers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Oldest living ex-MLB player dies in Cuba at 102

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Business

Wellness programs grow more popular with employers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Sales of new US homes plunge 14.5 percent in March

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Buffett disapproves of Coca-Cola’s pay plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Amazon snares classic shows in deal with HBO

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
US stocks edge lower after a six-day rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Obituaries

Phyllis J. Miller

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jean Sophia Ruckdeshel

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Robert James Carty Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dondi Martin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard Of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9