A five-year reauthorization of farm and nutrition programs (S 954) is currently being debated on the Senate floor, and the House is could take up its version of the farm bill (HR 1947) as early as the week of June 17. The agriculture committees of both chambers approved legislation in mid-May.
The Senate bill would cost $955 billion over the next 10 years and would reduce spending on mandatory programs by $17.8 billion compared with current law. Most of those savings would come from ending direct payments to farmers in favor of new programs that compensate for certain losses and provide "adverse markets" payments to farmers when prices fall below a historic reference point. Existing crop insurance programs would also be bolstered.
The House bill, priced at $940 billion over 10 years, would also achieve substantial savings by ending direct payments, though it would rely on a different set of replacement programs than the Senate bill. Although the budgetary effects on commodity programs are similar between the two plans, the House bill would cut much more from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. As a result, the $33.3 billion in total mandatory savings in the House bill is close to twice what the Senate bill would save. The House bill would also increase spending on crop insurance programs more than the Senate plan.