News Date: 03/17/2008
The House and Senate passed legislation (S. 2745) on March 12 to extend the current 2002 farm bill until April 18. The extension was necessary because the existing farm bill was scheduled to expire on March 15 and the 1949 permanent farm law would have gone into effect.
President Bush issued a statement saying that he would sign the legislation to provide more time for Congress to reach an agreement on a new farm bill. Bush also said that if an agreement could not be reached by April 18, then he would call on Congress to extend current farm law for at least one year.
House and Senate negotiators are continuing to work on the 2007 farm bill while Congress is taking a two-week spring recess. The discussions are being held behind closed doors because a formal conference committee has not been convened. The Senate appointed farm bill conferees in January, but the House is not expected to name conference members until a funding deal is reached. The negotiators include the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.). Lawmakers are considering a plan that would provide about $10 billion in additional spending over the budget baseline over 10 years. The challenge is deciding how to pay for the additional spending, what revenue offsets will be used, and how the money will be allocated among farm programs. The administration has repeatedly threatened to veto the legislation if it contains any tax increases. (Contact: Charlie Ingram)
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