New hope for deal on farm bill - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New hope for deal on farm bill

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The long-stalled farm bill is on the early to-do list for Congress in the new year.

While there are deep divisions over several aspects of the omnibus bill, there are also growing political pressures in an election year.

The last five-year farm bill expired in 2012. Its programs were extended through 2013.

The Senate has twice passed a new five-year bill. But the House has not followed suit. The bill covers everything from crop subsidies to renewable energy to food stamps. And as Sen. Patrick Leahy noted on the Senate floor Tuesday, the legislation touches every American family in some way.

"But the farm bill limbo is part of a string of artificial made-by-Congress dilemmas. This limbo not only hurts farmers, but their communities and our economy," said Leahy, D-Vermont.

The Senate bill does include a new insurance program to help dairy farmers replace the direct subsidies of the old farm bill.

The big hang-up in negotiations is on funding for food stamps. House Republicans are looking to make further cuts in the program by raising eligibility requirements.

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