It looks like three years worth of congressional back-and-forth is finally over. The Senate passed the $1 trillion, five-year farm bill Tuesday, sending the bill to President Obama's desk for his signature.
It doesn't always make for the most exciting politics, but the farm bill helps farmers and companies make long-term plans without worrying about a sudden rule change. And its effects can be felt all the way down to your local grocery store. (Via C-SPAN)
"People don't really realize how many issues that the farm bill pertains to. It also has food stamps, it has things dealing with food labeling, it has things dealing with whether dairy subsidies move forward. The price of milk can go higher or lower." (Via MSNBC)
The bill will end the decades-long practice of giving direct subsidies to farmers, instead creating a government-backed crop insurance program. The program will cut risk for farmers, but the government will be on the hook if crop prices fall. (Via U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)
And then there's the SNAP food stamp program, which is being trimmed by $8.6 billion over the next decade. Legislators say that was done by reducing waste and fraud, not by kicking people off the program. (Via U.S. Department of Agriculture)
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would reduce spending by more than $16 billion over the next decade, although lawmakers are touting a somewhat higher number, around $23 billion in savings.
Once the bill is signed by the president, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will start working to implement the new laws before spring planting season, which in some parts of the country is just weeks away.