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