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U.S. Senate passes farm bill to trim billions from agriculture budget

Farm in rural Michigan
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The U.S. Senate has passed the 2012 farm bill with bipartisan support. The bill would cut more than $23 billion  from the Department of Agriculture's budget over the next 10 years.

The Senate bill consolidates some conservation programs. It includes a Great Lakes initiative to work with farmers on a voluntary basis to protect land, water and wildlife habitat.

The bill also increases help for farmers if they suffer a disaster or a loss – like Michigan’s fruit farmers who lost most of their crops after an early freeze this year.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan chairs the Agriculture Committee. She says the bill includes other changes:

"We’re not going to do these big farm subsidies on acres where you don’t even grow crops anymore," Stabenow says. "Taxpayers shouldn’t just be giving a government check every year."

Stabenow says the bill eliminates about 100 programs that were redundant or  ineffective. It now heads to the House where it faces a Sept. 30 deadline.