On Thursday afternoon, the Senate Agriculture Committee completed its markup and passed the 2012 farm bill. It now heads to the full Senate.

According to a committee statement, the bill — which ends direct payments to farmers — will cut agriculture spending some $25 billion by “eliminating unnecessary subsidies, consolidating programs to end duplication, and cracking down on food assistance abuse. These reforms allow for the strengthening of key initiatives that help farmers and small businesses reach new markets and create American jobs.”

To read the bill, see here.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, committee chairwoman, said she was proud of the bipartisan approach to the legislation. “We now look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues in a bipartisan way to ensure we enact a farm bill this year before the current one expires.  Agriculture supports 16 million jobs in our country, and it is absolutely critical to provide farmers the certainty they need to plan and grow by passing a farm bill this year.”

While the committee’s vote was indeed bipartisan none of the three members from the South — Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran — voted for the bill. During deliberations all expressed reservations about the ability of the legislation to adequately protect some sectors of southern agriculture. Among their worries: irrigated acreage, peanuts, rice and cotton.   

In a joint statement following the bill’s passage, USA Rice Federation, US Rice Producers Association, Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, and Western Peanut Growers said, “While we are disappointed in the Senate package due to its lack of equitable treatment of many of the producers we represent, we appreciate the efforts of these senators in so faithfully giving voice to so many farmers locked out of an effective safety net under the bill. … We remain hopeful that, as the process moves forward, rice and peanut farmers in all growing regions might be allowed to participate as equals alongside other commodities in having access to risk management tools provided by the farm bill."