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Senate passes five-year farm and food bill

By Jim Abrams

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, June 21 2012 12:19 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2010, file photo, combines, costing several hundred thousand dollars each, harvest a field during a corn harvesting demonstration at the Husker Harvest Days fair, in Grand Island, Neb. A program that put billions of dollars in the pockets of farmers whether or not they plant a crop has been voted out by the Senate with hardly a protest from farm groups and the politicians who look out for their interests.

Nati Harnik, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — The Senate has passed a five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill that cuts farm subsidies and land conservation spending by about $2 billion a year. But the measure largely protects sugar growers and some 46 million food stamp beneficiaries.

The 64-35 vote for passage defied the political odds. Many predicted that legislation this expensive and complicated would have little chance in an election year.

The bill eliminates direct payments to farmers regardless of whether they plant crops. That program, which costs about $5 billion a year, has lost support at a time of big federal deficits.

The legislation now goes to the GOP-led House, which is likely to seek deeper cuts in food stamps.

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