WASHINGTON — The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a bill Wednesday to give farmers $7.4 billion in assistance to weather low commodity prices.

That is almost $2 billion more than in the bill passed by the House on June 26. Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., warned in a prepared statement that the split might leave farmers waiting longer, because the two versions must be reconciled.

The National Farmers Union cheered the Senate version, though farm groups had lobbied earlier in the year for $9 billion, and $9.7 billion was approved in 2000.

The Senate bill would use $5.5 billion allocated in the federal budget to support farmers in the fiscal 2001 and draw on funds available in the next fiscal year for the rest. In addition to price supports, the bill would provide about $500 million for conservation programs.

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