WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow is fond of saying that the five-year farm policy bill is "not your father's farm bill."
There's some truth to that comment: While the core missions of farm bills - protecting farmers from bad times, conserving rural lands and funding food stamps and other nutrition programs - are unchanged, this farm bill takes some very different approaches.
A major change is in the farm safety net system. Direct payments, regardless of whether farmers plant a crop, are gone. They are being replaced by strengthened crop insurance and a new program to cover revenue losses. No longer will wealthy "farm managers" who don't live or work on their farms be eligible for payments.