WASHINGTON -- A program that puts billions of dollars in the pockets of farmers whether or not they plant a crop may disappear with hardly a protest from farm groups and politicians.
As early as Tuesday, the Senate could begin debating a five-year farm and food aid bill that would save $9.3 billion by ending direct payments to farmers and replacing them with subsidized insurance programs for when the weather turns bad or prices go south.
The details are still to be worked out. But there's rare agreement that fixed annual subsidies of $5 billion a year for farmers are no longer feasible in this age of tight budgets and when farmers in general are enjoying record prosperity.
About 80 percent of the half-trillion-dollar bill is for nutrition programs, primarily food stamps.