WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate gave final congressional approval on Tuesday to a long-delayed five-year farm bill that provides food for the needy and subsidies for farmers and sent it to President Barack Obama for his expected signature.
The Senate voted 68 to 32 to pass the legislation which is more than a year overdue after the Republican-led House of Representatives approved it by 251 to 166 last week.
The sweeping bill would cost the federal government about 96 billion U.S. 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 are paid to farmers 5 billion dollars a year whether they grow crops or not.
The bill also strengthens 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 approval of the farm bill was believed as a bipartisan achievement for a divided U.S. Congress, which made some important reforms for the future development of U.S. agriculture.
In a statement after the vote, President Obama said, "Today, in a strong bipartisan vote, the U.S. Senate came together to pass a comprehensive Farm Bill."
The bill isn't perfect, "but on the whole, it will make a positive difference not only for the rural economies that grow America's food, but for our nation," he said.
"This bill provides certainty to America's farmers and ranchers, and contains a variety of commonsense reforms that my Administration has consistently called for, including reforming and eliminating direct farm subsidies and providing assistance for farmers when they need it most," Obama said.
The last five-year farm bill was passed in 2008 and its provisions were extended for an additional year as part of a budget deal in January 2013.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to advance the unemployment benefits extension bill, clearing procedural hurdle for the legislation.
In a 60-37 vote, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a motion to begin debate on the bill, which would provide a three- month extension of the benefits program. An estimated 1.3 million unemployed Americans saw their benefits lapse when the program expired on Dec. 28. Full story
WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. House and Senate agricultural leaders on Monday reached a bipartisan agreement on a new five-year farm bill, a step closer to wrap up the long-delayed legislation for the U.S. agriculture and food policy.
"Today's bipartisan agreement puts us on the verge of enacting a five-year farm bill that saves taxpayers billions, eliminates unnecessary subsidies, creates a more effective farm safety net and helps farmers and businesses create jobs," Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agricultural Committee, said in a statement. Full story