Senate votes for a farm bill amendment to study alfalfa farming risks

Moran said that alfalfa is the fourth most valuable U.S. crop because it is used to feed cows, aiding in the production of milk and meat. He said that the current crop insurance program is “inadequate” for alfalfa farmers.

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“Alfalfa is the nation’s fourth most valuable crop,” Moran said. “It is the building block for milk and meat. … We need to figure out a way to manage its risk.”

The Senate is finishing up work on a $955 billion five-year farm bill, that would cut nearly $24 billion from current spending levels over 10 years, including $4 billion-worth of cuts in food stamps, which has led to some Democratic opposition.

“We’re close to finishing the bill and we need to get it done this week,” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Monday. “The five-year bill in front of us needs to pass.”

The Senate also approved an amendment from Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) by voice-vote. Their amendment would increase funding for a regional food aid program from $40 million to $60 million a year.

Last year’s Senate farm bill passed on a 64-35 vote, but the House failed to take up their own farm bill.

This year the House has a $940 billion farm bill that cuts spending by $39.7 billion over 10 years — $20.5 billion are cuts to food stamps. The House bill likely won’t get a floor vote until later this month.

The White House has said it supports the Senate farm bill, which shifts farm subsidies away from direct payments to farmers and toward expanded crop insurance. The bill also ties crop insurance subsidies to compliance of environmental standards.

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