The House passed a $125.5 billion fiscal year 2012 USDA, FDA and related agencies funding bill that makes sharp cuts in some programs but turned out not to be nearly as draconian as it could have been, according to observers.

The bill, H.R. 2112, would reduce spending on nutrition, food aid and conservation programs by nearly $2 billion, moves that drew scathing criticism from hunger, environmental and some farm organizations.

But the House turned back several attempts to make significant cuts in farm program spending and farm program eligibility, areas that House Agriculture Committee members, including Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said would more appropriately be dealt with in the next farm bill.

At one point in the nearly two days of debate, Lucas had appropriations-committee language removed from the bill on a point of order. The latter would have reduced the 2008 farm bill’s average adjusted gross income eligibility level from $1.25 million ($750,000 on-farm and $500,000 off-farm income) to $250,000.