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Farm Bill Ping-Pong: House Edition

The outside of a factory wall with a large graphic that says "Birdsong Peanuts" painted on the side.

Not to be outdone by the Senate, which passed a farm bill on June 21, the House Agriculture Committee has begun to vote through amendments on a draft version of its own.

Officially dubbed "The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012," the bill seeks to cut some $35 billion in direct spending -- $11 billion more than the Senate's plan.

Compare And Contrast

The Senate and House bills are similar in that both derive significant savings from eliminating direct payments to farmers, consolidating conservation initiatives and reigning in commodity support funding.

The biggest difference, however, comes in the size of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.

While the Senate would cut $4 billion from SNAP, the House would cut $16 billion via modifications to eligibility requirements. One out of every seven Americans currently receives some kind of federal food assistance.

Protecting Peanuts, Rice

The two chambers' bills also differ in how direct payments will be converted to crop insurance. Whereas the House would give farmers a choice between a revenue-loss program and a target price program, the Senate only approved the latter option.

For southern peanut and rice farmers, this is an important difference, since they are more likely to prefer price-support programs.

Committee Voting On Amendments

The House Agriculture Committee began voting through proposed amendments today in the hope of getting the bill through the committee this week.

So far, amendments to eliminate sugar and dairy price support systems have been overturned. Democrats' attempts to decrease the bill's controversial cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have also been blocked.

Amendments that would further deepen SNAP cuts are still pending.

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