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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has passed a bill that makes modest modifications to existing farm programs while largely avoiding changes to food stamps, setting up a showdown with the House.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said while the bill today included many worthy provisions, it failed to take even small steps to reform runaway government spending on programs that have little if anything to do with Wisconsin's farm families.

"I hope to be able to support a final, improved version that includes sufficient, lasting reforms. In the meantime, I will continue to advocate for Wisconsin's agriculture community and do whatever I can to make sure Wisconsin farmers have the opportunity to sell their goods at fair prices around the world."  

The legislation renews farm programs such as subsidies for crop insurance, farm credit and land conservation. The House passed a version of the bill that would tighten work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

GOP aides say the bill is expected to go to conference, where Senate and House leadership will try to reconcile their differences.

National Farmers Union Board of Directors applauded passage of the Senate Farm Bill but will continue to press lawmakers for additional improvements.

“At a time of great financial stress, family farmers and ranchers are in need of some economic certainty. The Senate’s version of the Farm Bill includes encouraging provisions that strengthen the farm safety net, promote farm sustainability, and ensure access to fair and diverse markets, all of which would provide essential security," said Rob Larew, NFU Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications. “As the bill moves forward to conference, we look forward to working with Congressional leadership to make additional improvements and investments.”

The bill passed 86-11.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said the action of the Senate today pushed the farm bill one big step closer to the finish line today and it could not have come at a better time as America’s farmers and ranchers continue to face a challenging agricultural economy, a shaky outlook for our export markets and a dire ag labor shortage.

“Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow worked with other members of the Senate Agriculture Committee to deliver a bill that will continue to provide the risk management tools that America’s farmers need more than ever before. And the fact that Leader McConnell agreed this should be a legislative priority helped move this very important bill forward in the Senate," Duvall said.

“Of course, no bill is ever perfect, but this bipartisan effort gives us a solid framework for progress. We do have concerns about some of the provisions that were added to the bill that make it harder for farmers to manage risk, but we are confident that those issues can be satisfactorily addressed by the House/Senate conference committee," Duvall added.

Farm programs are set to expire Sept. 30 unless Congress acts.

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