WASHINGTON (AP) -- For once, it's not Democrats battling Republicans. The five-year farm and food stamps bill now being debated in the Senate is a regional fight, pitting rice and peanut growers in the South against corn producers and soybean farmers in the Midwest.
The half-trillion-dollar bill setting future farm policy outlines dramatic changes in how farmers are protected from financial and natural disasters. It would end $5 billion a year in direct payments made to farmers whether or not they actually plant a crop.
But as with all big changes, there are winners and losers, and Southern rice and peanut growers see themselves as the losers. This regional divide is one of the major obstacles to getting a farm bill through Congress before the current law expires at the end of September.