Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Farm Bill News Tidbits

Financing the Farm bill not easy:
The Senate Finance Committee had been looking into whether to require
certain temporary foreign workers -- ranging from agricultural workers and
physicians to students and au pairs -- to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes
and to require contributions from their employers. Such workers and their
employers now are exempt from those taxes on the theory that many of the workers aren't in the U.S. for long.
The change, which would raise an estimated $7.1
billion over 10 years, was proposed as a major way to offset the cost of a farm
bill the tax panel was planning to vote on this week. Under the principle of
pay-as-you-go, or pay-go, reinstated when Democrats took control of Congress
this year, new spending or tax cuts must be offset with spending cuts or tax
increases.

Meat Inspections Would Change

Because of a little-noticed legislative change buried deep within the 2007 farm bill approved in July by the House, only state inspections would be required for some meat products.The measure was planted in the farm bill by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), according to congressional staffers familiar with the bill. It would be a boon to small meat processing companies whose products must remain in the state of origin because they lack a federal inspection stamp.

Cutting of the Farm Bill Underway:

Senators will try to cut the $5.2 billion in subsidies guaranteed annually to U.S. grain, cotton and soybean growers when they debate the new farm bill, Agriculture Committee chairman Tom Harkin said on Tuesday.
Harkin said his committee probably would try to draft the bill on Thursday, the same day the Finance Committee was to meet on an ag tax bill that would pay for some farm bill programs, chiefly disaster relief and land preservation.
"You can anticipate there is going to be a number of amendments on the Senate floor to revise the direct payments," Harkin, Iowa Democrat, told reporters, referring to the guaranteed subsidies.

Americans Favor Cuts in Farm Aid - More in Conservation

According to new public opinion polls in Colorado, New York, Oregon, Virginia and Washington state found that more than three out of four of poll respondents in each state agreed that their U.S. senators should support shifting money from farm subsidies to conservation programs. If that reform effort succeeded, more than six out of 10 Americans said they would have a more favorable opinion of Congress.

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