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Crop insurance cuts cut from federal budget bill

Upper Midwest farmers were happy Thursday to learn the federal government will not cut crop insurance programs.

A budget bill the House approved was to have contained a $3 billion cut to crop insurance. However, farm-state federal lawmakers pressured House, Senate and White House leaders to remove it as a budget vote neared Wednesday night.

"I'm pleased that we have an agreement to fix the crop insurance cuts and not open the farm bill," said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the top House Agriculture Committee Democrat.

The expanded crop insurance program was put in last year's bill funding farm program so farmers no longer must rely as much on Congress approving disaster payments after floods and other weather woes.

"Ensuring our producers can feed, fuel and clothe the world ensures a strong economy for America," U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., said.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., also said he was glad with the change and supported the overall budget bill, one of 79 Republicans to vote "yes," along with 187 Democrats.

"In a divided government, you are never able to everything you want, but by agreeing to limited increases in discretionary spending, we are able to provide our armed forces with the additional support they need to defend our freedoms around the globe and make meaningful reforms to entitlement spending," Cramer said.

With the agreement, Peterson and many others from farm districts agreed to support the bill.

"This bipartisan deal also prevents significant cuts to seniors, stops Medicare Part B premiums from skyrocketing and ensures that we preserve the full faith and credit of the United States," Peterson said.

The two-year budget passed 266-167. Senators expect to vote before the weekend ends. Some Senate conservatives have said they will attempt to block the budget bill's progress.

The plan extends the federal debt limit through March 2017 and eases automatic spending caps to add $80 billion in new discretionary spending over two years.

Spending details of the budget are expected to pass in another bill by Dec. 11.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.