News Date: 05/12/2008
Both the House and Senate are expected to vote on the 2007 farm bill conference report on May 14 after congressional negotiators announced a final agreement on the legislation during a May 8 press conference. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer issued a statement on the same day saying that President Bush will veto the farm bill.
During the May 8 press conference, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said the farm bill agreement was a strong, bipartisan package that benefits all citizens. He emphasized that all of the "new" money goes to the nutrition title which provides a total of $10.4 billion including $1 billion for the fresh fruit and vegetable school nutrition program. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) noted the farm bill makes important investments in conservation, renewable energy, specialty crops, maintains a safety net for farmers, and makes significant reforms on payment limits. Ranking committee members Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) echoed the chairmen's statements. They also pointed out that development of a 2007 farm bill was a difficult and long struggle because lawmakers were disadvantaged by having $58 billion below the 2002 budget baseline. All of the lawmakers urged President Bush to sign the legislation.
USDA's May 8 statement on the final farm bill said the legislation fails to include much needed policy reforms and increases spending by almost $20 billion. USDA and the administration also opposed a new permanent disaster assistance program included in the final bill and said it would discredit farm programs and jeopardize public support for future farm bills.
NASDA President and North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson on May 12 urged all NASDA members to contact their congressional delegations in support of the 2007 farm bill conference report. The final legislation includes many NASDA priorities including disaster assistance, specialty crop block grants, renewable energy, interstate meat sales, conservation program funding, and a fruit/vegetable school nutrition program. (Contact: Charlie Ingram)
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