|By Chris Casteel, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The bill, approved 251 to 166, now goes to the
Lucas, a rancher from
Wednesday, he said the "long and seemingly epic journey" had ended with legislation that improved the farm policies in place since 2008. The
Lucas and other supporters touted the elimination of controversial direct cash payments to landowners -- many of whom don't plant crops -- and the movement toward crop insurance as the primary safety net for farmers.
Besides crop insurance, the bill introduces new safety net mechanisms to protect farmers when crop prices drop.
Critics said those programs could wind up costing taxpayers far more than estimated.
"Any slight dip (in prices) will mean huge payments going out in the future," said Rep.
The large majority of the money in the bill goes to the food stamp program, which exploded in cost after the economic downturn in 2008.
Praise and criticism
Cole, who said he had 14,000 farmers and ranchers in his district, praised the bill for preserving American farmers' "capability to provide more food and fiber than any other country."
National trade groups for wheat, corn, soybean and cotton growers supported the compromise bill, but meat producers worked against it, complaining that lawmakers should have repealed the law that mandates country-of-origin labeling.
Lankford, who is running for the
The earlier House version had much deeper cuts to the
The measure approved Wednesday would cut about
Many Democrats opposed the bill because of the food stamp cuts.
"How can I explain the change is minor when they lose
Conservation groups praised several elements of the bill, including the requirement that producers who receive taxpayer subsidies for crop insurance premiums take steps to protect wetlands and prevent soil erosion.