By a vote of 66 to 27, the U.S. Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, otherwise known as the Farm Bill, which places more emphasis on the Federal Crop Insurance Program as the primary risk management tool for U.S. farmers.

A one-year stop-gap bill similar to this one was put in place to avoid expiration last year; a last-minute amendment from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was rejected.

The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) commended the Senate for passing the bill and said it was “pleased to see that the amendment offered by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), which would have stripped the [federal crop insurance program] of critical resources in its budget baseline, was overwhelmingly defeated.”

The legislation enhances crop insurance with the inclusion of the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). According to Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), the SCO enables producers to purchase a supplemental policy beyond their individual farm-based policy.

In addition, the bill features a new Agriculture Risk Coverage program that covers assistance for multiple-year losses. In a statement, Sen. Hoeven said that the program works with crop insurance by covering between 78 and 88 percent of a producer's historic five-year average revenues based on price and yield.

According to the Washington Post, the federal crop insurance program currently pays out $7 billion per year to cover premiums; under the new bill, $5 billion would be added to cover deductibles.

Near the end of last year, the Senate passed a similar five-year extension of the Farm Bill, however, it failed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to the IIABA, the Republican-led House is currently expected to consider their version of the Farm Bill next week, where a battle is anticipated over the extent of cuts to the food stamp program, which are also included in the bill.

The current Farm Bill is set to expire Sept. 30, 2013.

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