WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday approved a $28.1-billion farm and food bill providing money for the Agriculture Department and two related agencies for this fiscal year, after turning back two attempts to trim the spending figure.
The money, approved on an 81-14 vote, covers farm subsidies, agricultural research and extension, conservation programs, food stamps and other nutrition programs, rural development funds and the department's export and other international activities.
Money also is in the bill for the operations of the Food and Drug Administration and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
The Senate spending figure is far below the $36.4 billion approved earlier by the House. The Senate left out an estimated $9.4 billion that will be needed to keep in business the Commodity Credit Corp., the government entity which pays farm subsidies.
Instead of specifying an amount, the Senate bill gives authority for open-ended subsidy spending, a move aimed at heading off a repeat of the funding crisis last July when the CCC ran out of money and had to temporarily halt its operations.
Actual fiscal 1986 spending, if the CCC estimate were included, would be $37.4 billion. The differences between the House and Senate versions still must be worked out.