News Local/State

Senate Takes Up Farm Bill


The U.S. Senate could finally vote on a new farm bill on Monday, but the final version could still be at least several weeks away.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) added a provision that would require wealthier farmers pay more for crop insurance, which Durbin argues is mostly subsidized by taxpayers.

"We took a look at the farmers in Illinois," Durbin said. "These are not the farmers you are thinking about. These are not the farmers you see at the fair, by and large. These are farmers who have farms in six, 12, 18 counties. These are huge operations and they can afford it."

But others say the higher cost would lead some to bow out of the program. 

Many leading ag groups say that could wind up forcing all farmers to pay more to make up the difference.

That is just one controversial part of the farm bill, which is about more than agriculture. For example, it includes funding for food stamps. The House and Senate are at odds over reduction of the benefits.

Durbin said that might wind up being the most contentious part of the overall debate. It is likely the entire farm bill will wind up in negotiations over the summer in an attempt to get a final compromise.