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Farm bill clears first hurdle in Senate
Five-year farm and food bill clears first procedural hurdle in Senate
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ' A five-year farm and food bill that revamps the federal safety net for farmers has cleared its first procedural hurdle in the Senate.

The 90-8 vote to officially begin debate opens the way for what could be several weeks of attempts to amend proposed legislation that spends some $100 billion a year on crop insurance, conservation and nutrition programs.

The measure would save $23 billion over a 10-year period from current spending levels. Some savings would come from eliminating the current system where farmers get paid directly regardless of whether they actually plant a crop. This would be replaced with greater stress on subsidized crop insurance and a new program that would compensate farmers when revenues from planted fields fall below levels as determined by a five-year average.

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