Senate passes farm bill without big food stamp changes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a sweeping farm bill without the food stamps changes approved by the House of Representatives earlier this month.

The Senate approved the bipartisan measure by an 86-11 vote. The House bill passed with only Republican votes.

The two chambers will need to negotiate to reconcile the differences between the two measures before a bill can be sent to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.

Farm bills provide funding for diverse programs including food aid, crop subsidies, rural development, conservation and efforts to stem the opioid crisis in rural communities.

The last bill came into effect in 2014, two years behind schedule, after extensive congressional negotiations and partisan fights over food stamps.

Bipartisan farm bill negotiations in the House broke down again this year after Republicans proposed changes to the food stamps program, formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

SNAP is used by more than 40 million Americans, or about 12 percent of the total U.S. population.

The House bill would expand the number of non-disabled individuals subject to SNAP work requirements by raising the top age to 59 from 49 and including more people caring for school-age children. It would also put new limits on state governors’ ability to waive work requirements in economically depressed areas.

The Senate bill includes no major changes to the SNAP program, but does contains minor tweaks such as extending job training pilot programs created by the last farm bill and establishing a new pilot related to income verification.

Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Leslie Adler