News Date: 04/02/2008
House and Senate negotiators are continuing to push for an agreement on a final 2007 farm bill. Last week, key lawmakers discussed different versions of a farm bill funding framework, but much work needs to be done before a final agreement is reached.
A "preliminary funding framework" for the 2007 farm bill was announced on March 18 by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Negotiators are trying to reach a deal on how $10 billion in additional spending will be allocated in the farm bill. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and other senators promptly rejected the March 18 proposal because it only provided $2.2 billion for permanent disaster assistance. A new version of the funding framework was circulating the week of March 24 which proposed $4 billion for disaster assistance and less funding for conservation, direct payments, crop insurance, trade, specialty crops and energy. The budget numbers are likely to change again as negotiators continue their "closed door" discussions.
Negotiators are struggling to meet an April 18 deadline when the current extension of the 2002 farm bill expires. President Bush has said that if lawmakers cannot reach an agreement on the farm bill by April 18, then he would call on Congress to extend current farm law for at least one year. (Contact: Charlie Ingram)
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