Corn and soybean farmers are pushing for — and Congress is moving to create — a whole new subsidy that could maintain farm incomes at a nearly four-decade high should prices fall or crops be destroyed by weather.

The new subsidy would protect farmers when their revenue drops. Critics say it is an unprecedented program that could pay billions of dollars to farmers now enjoying record-high crop prices.

The subsidy would take the form of free insurance that would cover farmers' shallow crop losses before their paid insurance kicks in. It would replace several other subsidy programs, including direct payments preferred by Southern rice and cotton farmers. Growers get the direct payments regardless of crop yields or prices. They don't even have to farm.

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