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Updated: Roberts of Kansas, farm state lawmakers push back on crop insurance cuts in budget deal

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas isn’t a fan of the proposed two-year budget deal circulating through Washington, the Hill reports.

The reason? The package apparently cuts the federal crop insurance program, one of the most important federal supports for agriculture. It cuts the rate of return for federally-subsidized insurers from 14.5 percent to 8.9 percent, which at least one report suggests will save $3 billion.

Roberts chairs the Ag committee. The Hill says the Republican denounced the crop insurance cuts in a private meeting Monday night.

UPDATE: In a statement Tuesday, Roberts said this: “Farmers and ranchers have done more than their fair share to reduce government spending. To target the number one priority for producers with additional cuts will undermine the delivery of this important protection for agriculture.”

The ranking member of the Senate Ag committee, Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, said she opposes the crop insurance cuts. The Republican chair and ranking Democrat of House Ag made similar statements.

EARLIER: It appears Roberts might be an outlier in the GOP Senate caucus, though. The omnibus bill would extend the debt ceiling, make changes in Medicare, and add $80 billion over two years to the Budget Control Act caps, known as the sequester.

But some of the fixes in the bill — to Medicare, for example — are being paid for by cuts to other programs. Including, apparently, crop insurance.

The House is much more problematic than the Senate. A vote could come as early as Wednesday.

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