Friday, May 09, 2008

Congress Reaches Deal on Farm Bill - Bush will Veto

For nearly 2 years Congress has been talking about the next farm bill. Finally an agreement has been reached between the House and Senate, but Secretary Schaefer says President Bush says he will veto it:

"At a time of record farm income, Congress decided to further increase farm subsidy rates, qualify more people for taxpayer support, and move programs toward more government control," Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said.

Schafer dismissed lawmakers, including Republicans, pushing to override the veto. "The same people stand up and say they're against corporate welfare and tax cuts for the rich," he said. "I have visited face to face with our president and he was direct and plain. The president will veto this bill."

But members of Congress want to see this bill become law:

Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (Va.), ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, said that he is "favorably disposed" toward the bipartisan compromise bill, but that lawmakers must decide for themselves whether to vote to override a veto. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated that he will vote against the bill, saying, "I don't think [it] represents our best effort."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports the bill. Congressional leaders plan to bring it to the House and Senate floors next week for votes that could test the depth of support for it.

The bill contains many provisions that will set agricultural policy over the next 5 years including impacts on the livestock industry:

There are several key livestock provisions in the bill that would be lost if the bill is successfully vetoed. One is new language on COOL that is seen by the livestock industry as more friendly than that in the 2002 farm bill.

The key compromise on COOL forged in the House bill passed on July 27, remains in the conference report, Tom Buis, president of the National Farmers Union told Feedstuffs. If the new bill is enacted, its COOL provisions would become mandatory law this Sept. 30.

Buis and Washington consultant, Randy Russell, who represents meat and livestock clients, went behind closed doors in July, at the request of House Chairman Collin Peterson, to fashion the compromise.

Specialty Crops would also gain support:

Specialty crops. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and wine travel under the generic name specialty crops, which together receive a record amount in the new farm bill. The bill totals roughly $1.3 billion for a variety of grants, research and marketing assistance targeting specialty crops and organic agriculture.

The specialty crop spending would be several times more than was provided in the last farm bill written in 2002. It includes, for instance, $33 million for grants promoting farmers markets, $466 million in block grants to states and $22 million to help small growers pay the fees needed for certification as an organic farm. States will basically use the block grants to promote specialty crops, with fruit-and-vegetable-producing states like California and Florida getting a big share of the total.

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