To farm bill or not to farm bill, that is the question. Or that’s been the question occupying the Senate for the last week. The problem, as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition explains, is that while there is a complete farm bill draft awaiting a final vote in the Senate, senators have filed almost 300 amendments, several of them unrelated to the bill itself.

There isn’t enough time to consider all these amendments, so farm-state senators have worked furiously to pull off a deal involving votes on a package of amendments followed by a vote on the complete bill. It will all culminate today, in what’s called a vote-o-rama: votes on 73 amendments in quick succession. (Here’s the guide to amendments to watch we published last week on Grist — although several of the most reform-minded did not make the cut, nor did the amendment to ban battery cages in egg production. The GMO labeling amendment led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will get a vote, however.) While this process will only get the bill through the Senate (the House is another story completely), it looks like it’s the best hope we have this year.

As important as it is for the Senate bill to move forward (the current farm bill expires in September), there are still some deeply troubling aspects to the legislation. As we’ve been reporting on for the last six months or so here at Grist, the expansion of crop insurance as a subsidy for large-scale farmers is a particular concern to many critics because it involves both a premium subsidy for farmers and a government guarantee to backstop losses for the insurance companies.