WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. House on Wednesday passed a long-delayed farm bill that would set U.S. agricultural policy for the next five years.
The Republican-led House passed the legislation easily with a vote of 251 to 166, after congressional negotiators on Monday reached a bipartisan agreement on the bill.
The bill would cost the federal government about 96 billion dollars a year, and about 80 percent of the money would go to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.
Among the most significant changes to farm subsidies in the new farm bill would be the elimination of a long-standing federal program called direct payments, which would pay farmers 5 billion dollars a year whether they grow crops or not.
The bill also strengthened crop insurance as an essential risk management tool to protect farmers from weather disasters and market volatility and make up for the loss of those payments.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would cut spending by 16.6 billion dollars over 10 years, compared with current funding.
"Today's House vote puts us one step closer to finally enacting a five-year farm bill that helps farmers and businesses create jobs across the country," Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agricultural Committee, said in a statement. "It's now up to the Senate to take the final step."
The Senate is expected to vote and pass the bill as early as next week. The House and Senate agricultural leaders said they expected President Barack Obama would sign the bill into law. It would become another bipartisan achievement for a divided U.S. Congress after the two-year budget deal was reached last month.
The last five-year farm bill was passed in 2008 and its provisions were extended an additional year as part of a budget deal in January 2013.