The U.S. Senate’s passing of the 2012 Farm Bill could save taxpayers $23 billion “while strengthening the tools available to producers to help manage risks and conserve natural resources,” according to Senate Chair Debbie Stabenow.

The bill, passing on a 65-34 vote, ends direct payments, shores up crop insurance and encourages a way to provide producers assistance when their operations are threatened by risks outside their control, the document reads.

At the end of this crop year, Direct Payments, Counter-Cyclical Payments (CCPs), the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program, and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program will be repealed, saving $15 billion, according to the farm bill.

It offers what its authors call a “stronger dairy program,” replacing two dairy programs with new versions, one of which is called the Dairy Production Market Protection Program (DPMPP). This voluntary program “protects producer margins equal to the difference between the all-milk price and a national feed cost. For small and medium-sized farms, additional margin protection is offered on the first 4 million pounds of milk marketed (the annual production of approximately 200 cows).

“The Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP) promotes growth while encouraging producers who participate in DPMPP to scale down production when the market is oversupplied.” These programs replace the Dairy Product Price Support Program and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program.

The bill continues supplemental disaster assistance for producers whose livestock have been affected by high mortality rates caused by severe weather, disease, or other acts of nature. It also continues assistance for natural disasters that destroy grazing land, honeybees, farm fish, orchard trees, and nursery trees.

The Senate will now wait for the House Agriculture Committee to begin action on its version of the farm bill, July 11.

For more on the 2012 Farm Bill, visit “Farm Bill Crosses Senate Finish Line,” from our sister publication, Western Farm Press and our story, Senate Considers Alfalfa, Forage Research.