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.