An amendment to reform crop subsidies within the 2007 farm bill may have failed 37-58 in the Senate, but its sponsors called it a moral victory because of the surprising support it received.

The amendment would have eliminated $6 billion in subsidies for corn, cotton, rice, wheat, soybeans, dairy and a few other commodities. In its place would have been free crop insurance and additional nutrition, conservation and environmental programs. The move would have saved the government $4 billion.

Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., authored the FRESH Act.

Among the senators supporting the reform proposal were Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Diane Feinstein, D-Calif.; Mitch McConnel, R-Ken.; Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.; and Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

Experts predict additional attempts to reform crop subsidies as the Senate continues to debate the farm bill. Final passage is expected sometime this week.

Under the proposed farm bill, the government would spend $288 billion during the next five years.

The House passed its version of the farm bill last summer. Once the Senate is finished with its version, the two houses will conference to negotiate the final wording. Supporters of the reform measures point to the negotiations as a time when they could reintroduce their proposal.

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