The House yesterday passed its version of the 1990 farm bill, the legislation that will regulate the nation's agriculture for the next five years. The vote was 327 to 91.

"It's a good vote, after . . . long hours," said Rep. E. (Kika) de la Garza (D-Tex.), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. "I think the basic skeleton of this legislation will stay together."

During yesterday's session, the fourth day of debate on the bill, the House passed an amendment requiring national standards for foods labeled "organic." Another amendment seeking to reduce subsidies to large farmers lost.

A conference will reconcile the House farm bill with the Senate version in final legislation for passage later in the year. The Senate passed its version of the measure last Friday.

Congressional guidelines had suggested the House spend $53 billion for farm programs during the five-year life of the bill, but the ongoing budget summit was expected to cut that figure substantially.

Rep. Edward R. Madigan (R-Ill.), the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee, said he voted against the bill because spending was too high.

Referring to Richard G. Darman, director of the Office of Management and Budget, Madigan said, "Mr. Darman told me that if anything like what we passed today was put before the president, he would veto it. I hope in conference to be able to advance the bill."

Committee Chairman de la Garza also acknowledged that "the basic problem is going to be numbers" but disagreed with the Bush administration for "suggesting numbers a lot bigger than we thought." Administration sources have said as much as $20 billion may have to come out of the farm bill. Changes in parliamentary procedure granted by the House Rules Committee restricted the length of yesterday's debate for most amendments to 10 minutes.

The regulations nonetheless allowed more than two hours of often stormy exchange on an amendment submitted by Rep. Silvio O. Conte (R-Mass.) setting a $50,000 ceiling on subsidies and a $250,000 limit on all benefits paid to individual farmers.

The amendment was the final effort by Conte and a group of would-be House reformers to alter or cut programs they regard as "sweetheart" deals coaxed along by the Agriculture Committee to benefit small numbers of farmers.

"Let me tell you, there are abuses in the program," Conte said. "These abuses will continue as long as you keep these {rich} farmers at the public trough."

Conte's thunder was stolen, however, when Agriculture Committee member Jerry Huckaby (D-La.) proposed a substitute amendment limiting total farm benefits to $200,000 but bringing subsidies up to $100,000. The Huckaby amendment passed, 375-45.

The victory kept the Agriculture Committee's record briefly unblemished against floor challenges to its draft bill, but the streak ended an hour later with passage of an amendment by Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) on organic food labeling.

The committee had wanted a softer approach, but DeFazio -- whose amendment required national standards to be set within three years -- prevailed 234 to 187 after a seesaw vote.

"This is a very hard-won amendment," said DeFazio. "Our opponents think {organic agriculture} makes no difference in the final product, and they wanted to push this to the wall."