Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic
The time has come for Congress to take another whack at the farm bill. Today the Senate begins voting on amendments to the new bill, officially known as the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007. Renewed every five years, the farm bill sets agriculture policy for the entire country. Normally the purview of farm-state senators from the South and Midwest, this year the farm bill has caught the attention of a varied assortment, including the medical community, environmentalists, agribusiness, and small farmers. In addition to billions of dollars in subsidies for farmers, the bill also allocates money for nutrition programs, including food stamps and school snacks, rural development, land conservation, and alternative energy programs in an attempt to placate would-be detractors. Questions have emerged about who benefits most from the legislation, and whether it's time to ax an outmoded system. Among the key issues on the table this week are payment caps and the possible inclusion of a renewable fuels standard. So while the Senate deliberates, tell us: Should farmers continue to get government subsidies?