The U.S. Senate just approved the compromise Farm Bill that passed the House last week. In the classic tradition of Farm Bills, it's a big mix of money for food programs and funding for farmers — helping two largely disparate groups of people.
On Monday, the Senate voted to end a filibuster on the bill, with only three Democrats voting against moving the bill forward. Tuesday's vote was 68 to 32, with nine Democrats joining the Republican opposition.
The Washington Post has a good overview of what's in the bill, including the graph at right. Food stamps — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — are the heavy bulk of spending. The new bill revises a program that linked heating subsidies to food benefits to trim almost $9 billion from the total amount. The net effect, via MSNBC: "850,000 households across the country are set to lose an average of $90 per month in food stamp benefits."
Food stamp recipients took a hit while farmers receiving crop insurance got a small increase in allocations. Which is why the low level of Democratic opposition to the compromise was seen by some as a capitulation. While there's been increasing opposition to the amount that is spent on crop insurance, Republicans have been adamant in trying to cut food stamp coverage. Last year, the House voted to cut $39 billion from the program, which never passed the Senate. But last fall, a rollback of a recession-prompted boost to benefits reduced benefits $36 a month for an average family. Two hits in a row.