The so-called farm bill came to the floor of the House of Representatives Thursday. And it crashed. The defeat shocked many observers, but the vote wasn't even particularly close: 234-195. (You can see how your own representative voted here.)
In the immediate aftermath, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., looking shell-shocked, blamed partisan politics. Democrats voted overwhelmingly against the bill, in large part because it cut an estimated $2 billion each year from nutrition programs like SNAP, or food stamps.
But 62 Republicans also voted against the bill, which highlighted an emerging new bipartisan reality. Farmers, along with those members of Congress who represent farm districts, are losing their grip on U.S. farm policy.
Farm-friendly members of the House Agriculture Committee wrote the version of the bill that died today. It included generous benefits to farmers, mainly in the form of government-subsidized crop insurance. It did not include a host of proposed reforms: limits on crop subsidies; proposals to buy more international food aid abroad, rather than ship it from U.S. ports; and nationwide standards on cages for egg-laying chickens, an idea supported by the country's biggest egg producers and also the Humane Society of the U.S.