Bank and farm groups said they are increasingly hopeful that Congress will pass a crop-insurance reform package this year.

A $6 billion crop-insurance bill recently cleared what had been its most difficult hurdle by escaping the Senate Agricultural Committee on a 10-8 vote. The bill, sponsored by Kansas Republican Pat Roberts and Nebraska Democrat Robert Kerrey, got committee approval despite the objection of its chairman, Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., who favors a more drastic overhaul of the federal crop-insurance program.

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