The process of writing a farm subsidy bill for the next five years is currently under way in the US Senate with the speed and efficiency for which both agriculture and that particular house of Congress are famous. Today’s news was that an attempt to reform the US sugar subsidy programme – which, unusually for American farm support, raises rather than lowers domestic prices – was rejected by 50 votes to 46, a narrower margin than in previous episodes but still a failed effort.
Another amendment, this one to radically reform the the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Programme (Snap) – commonly known as food stamps – lost by a much bigger margin, though the current version of the Senate farm bill does include cuts to that budget. It is perhaps under-appreciated outside the US that Snap, which helps nearly 50m poorer Americans buy food, makes up the large bulk of payments under the farm bill. Read more