Senate Passes Farm Bill

The U.S. Senate passed a four-year farm bill Tuesday that includes Payments in Lieu of Taxes.

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The so-called PILT program sends some $26 million a year to Alaska communities adjacent to non-taxable federal lands. The bill also renews Alaska’s Village Safe Water program, which gets some $30 million a year from the federal government.

Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, though, voted against it, saying it provided billions of dollars in wasteful agriculture subsidies.

The bill continues controversial subsidies for some crops. It also creates new crop insurance to replace billions of dollars in direct payments to farmers. It cuts more than $8 billion from the food stamp program over a decade, but those cuts affect about 15 states that critics say were taking advantage of a loophole, and Alaska is not among them.

Alaska’s Democratic Senator, Mark Begich, was one of 68 senators who voted for the bill. On the House said, Rep. Don Young also voted for it.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law this week.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her Read more about Lizhere.

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