The Senate on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to approve an $867 billion farm bill, as Congress appeared poised to pass legislation that will help an agriculture industry battered by President Trump’s trade war.
In an 87 to 13 vote, the Senate approved legislation that allocates billions of dollars in subsidies to American farmers, legalizes hemp, bolsters farmers markets and rejects stricter limits on food stamps pushed by House Republicans.
According to the Washington Post, the legislation will now head to the House, where it is also expected to pass, after lawmakers worked out a House-Senate compromise this month. President Trump expressed support for the legislation on Tuesday and said he expects it will be signed into law.
Congressional negotiators said they faced increasing pressure to complete the bill from farmers and ranchers who have suffered steep declines in commodities prices amid Trump’s ongoing trade war with China.
“We’ve been trying to point out this is no time for a revolutionary farm bill,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “It’s time to get a bill done so our farmers have predictability and certainty during a very difficult time. We just have to do that.”
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue expressed support for the legislation in a statement Monday night.
“The farm bill is moving along nicely,” Trump said Tuesday during his meeting with congressional Democratic leaders. “We think the farm bill is in very good shape.”
Still, the bill has faced criticism, including from conservative Republicans. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), one of two farmers in the Senate and a member of the Agriculture Committee, said he would vote against the package over its expansion of federal subsidies to more-distant relatives of farmers, such as cousins, nephews and nieces. Grassley joined eight other Republicans in opposing the measure, which was supported by every Senate Democrat.
The farm bill mirrors at least some provisions in the farm bill passed by House Republicans, including in expanding some federal agriculture subsidies to nieces, nephews and first cousins of farmers — even if those relatives do not directly work on the farm.
And the program legalizes the production of hemp, a form of cannabis with lower THC levels than marijuana.