LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Tobacco farmers long on the defensive notched a victory when the U.S. Senate defeated an attempt to eliminate the federal insurance program for the embattled crop.
The vote came Thursday as the Senate crafts a five-year farm bill.
The amendment proposed ending $33 million a year in insurance policies for tobacco farmers.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the amendment's defeat a "big victory" for tobacco growers.
Kentucky is the nation's top burley tobacco producer. But production has fallen sharply since the tobacco buyout nearly a decade ago.
University of Kentucky agricultural economist Will Snell says crop insurance is crucial for tobacco growers.
Not only do they depend on it for risk protection, but he says it helps them obtain financing.
Critics say federal contributions to crop insurance are too generous.