Farm bill divides Northern, Southern farmers
WASHINGTON – Senate passage of a half-trillion dollar farm and food bill depends in part on resolving a dispute over subsidies between Southern rice and peanut growers and Northern corn and soybean producers. But that regional divide was less in evidence Wednesday, as senators narrowly voted to maintain price supports and quotas for sugar producers ranging from Florida to Montana.
Senators traditionally put their partisanship aside on farm bills, and this year is no different. But the five-year farm policy bill also makes dramatic changes in how farmers are protected from financial and natural disasters and, as in all major changes, some see themselves as losers. In this case, it's the Southerners.
The bill ends $5 billion a year in direct payments to farmers whether or not they actually plant a crop and programs that reward farmers when prices fall below a targeted level.
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