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Vote possible on Farm Bill in U.S. House Thursday

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - U.S. House leaders were moving toward a vote Thursday on a revised Farm Bill, even though it wasn’t clear if Republicans had the 218 votes to pass it.

The five-year package only includes those farm programs in the last House measure defeated in June.

Food stamp funding – which makes up the lion’s share of the package – was spun off to a separate bill this week, in an effort to get the farm programs renewed.

Democrats in both the House and Senate were angered by the GOP’s last-second maneuver. Majority Senate Democrats say it will be dead on arrival in their chamber, and the White House has threatened a veto.

Democrats want food stamps to remain in the Farm Bill – and they don’t want any cuts, unlike House Republicans who propose a 3 percent reduction of food benefits. A market stabilization program for dairy farmers was cut from the House package last month.

Also, La Crosse Democrat Ron Kind was rejected when he tried to include new limits on federal subsidies on crop insurance premiums for wealthy farmers – plus subsidy limits for the insurers themselves.

The only new item in the revised farm bill would repeal laws from the 1930’s which kick in after a Farm Bill expires.

Wisconsin farm leaders say a return to the old laws would cause consumer milk prices to skyrocket. Critics say repealing the old laws would give Congress almost no incentive to pass new farm legislation – thus continuing current farm aid programs they say are too costly.