US Senate to take up farm bill

The U.S. Senate will take up the farm bill this week.

That legislation sends at least a billion dollars a year to Minnesota in the form of crop subsidies, food stamps and conservation programs. Both the House and Senate farm bills end direct payments to farmers.

But farmers could get additional subsidized crop insurance.

The federal government already pays 62 percent of those premiums, though groups on the right and left criticize farm subsidies.

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the top Democrat on the House Agriculture pane, said the debate over whether the government should support agriculture is the wrong debate.

"Is 62 percent the right number or should it be less?" he said. "That would be, I think, a valid discussion to have."

The fact that last summer's drought didn't lead to a wave of farm bankruptcies shows the crop insurance system works, Peterson said.

Lawmakers hope to send the farm bill to President Barack Obama by early August.

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