The Senate’s Farm Bill deliberations should wrap up next week, with final approval coming after this week’s recess. That makes this a good time to take stock of what we know and don’t know about what the final bill will look like.

With more than 200 amendments submitted, there are many ideas floating around for ways to improve the bill. Not all those amendments will be considered, but looking at the few amendments that already have been voted up or down, we get a sense of just how much reform the Senate is willing to swallow.

One important improvement already made it into the bill in the form of Amendment 953, which means-tests the crop insurance program. Under the amendment, producers with average adjusted gross income of more $750,000 would see their crop insurance subsidies reduced by 15 percent. While this modest reform – which would be implemented pending a study examining its effects on the overall insurance market, represents a step in the right direction – it barely garnered the votes to pass, clearing the floor 59-33.

A more radical reform to the federal sugar program introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., failed to pass, as did an amendment to prohibit federal premium support to tobacco farmers. The failure of those amendments is telling, as it suggests any major reforms may be destined for defeat.

So what should reform seekers push for during this final thrust, knowing that only incremental change is possible? When it comes to crop insurance, five more amendments should make the cut:

The U.S. Capitol Building - Washington DC

With these and many other good options for progress on the table, it would be shameful for the Senate to pass the bill as-is. But given the Senate’s record so far, even these modest reforms may be too much to hope for.

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