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Published June 11, 2013, 08:53 AM

Hoeven, Heitkamp both support Senate farm bill

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's U.S. senators both support the Senate's version of the next farm bill, saying it enhances crop insurance, continues the sugar program and reduces the federal budget deficit.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's U.S. senators both support the Senate's version of the next farm bill, saying it enhances crop insurance, continues the sugar program and reduces the federal budget deficit.

Republican John Hoeven and Democrat Heidi Heitkamp — both members of the Senate Agriculture Committee — voted in favor of the five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill passed by the Senate on Monday on a bipartisan 66-27 vote.

The bill expands government subsidies for crop insurance, rice and peanuts while making small cuts to food stamps. It also eliminates subsidies that are paid to farmers whether they farm or not.

The House is to take up its version of the farm bill later this month. The two chambers' versions eventually will need to be reconciled in a joint House-Senate conference committee. The current farm bill expires at the end of September.

The Senate passed a farm bill last year but the House declined to take up the legislation during an election year amid conflict over how much should be cut from the food stamp program, which helps the needy buy food. Hoeven said senators were able to build on the earlier legislation.

"For the second year in a row, the Senate has voted by a large, bipartisan majority to pass a strong farm bill for American producers and consumers," he said in a statement. "It's strong because we worked hard to make sure it includes enhanced crop insurance, continues the sugar program, provides additional funding for rural flood protection and saves $24 billion to help with the deficit and debt."

Heitkamp said Monday was "a great day for North Dakota agriculture."

"North Dakota producers deserve a long-term bill and it is incumbent upon the House to step up for rural America," she said in a statement. "Inaction will simply delay needed reforms, prevent smart cuts from taking place and continue unneeded policies that do not reflect the needs of rural America."

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