Scrapping efforts to move U.S. agriculture toward the free market, Congress just passed and President Bush signed into law a $249 billion measure substantially increasing farm programs over the next 10 years, including $90 billion in susidies. Supporters say subsidies help keep farmers solvent when crops fail or prices plummet. Critics contend subsidies overwhelmingly go to large agricultural operations, interfere with the free market and encourage farmers to overproduce subsidized crops. Bush initially wanted to redirect some subsidy money toward conservation programs. But political reality forced him to support the bill: In this fall's midterm congressional elections, several key Senate races are in farm states, and Republicans want to regain control of the Senate. Plus, Bush will need support in the heartland if he runs for re-election in 2004.