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Bush says farm bill 'lacks reform'

During a ceremony to swear in new Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that he'll veto the farm bill currently on its way from Congress to his desk if it doesn't meet his administration's criteria for "needed reforms.

"It seems like to us it lacks reform, it spends too much money and raises taxes," Bush said Wednesday morning. "If Congress sends me legislation that raises taxes or [does] not make needed reforms, I'm going to veto it."

Bush on Wednesday blamed specifically the notion that taxes will increase under the farm bill in Congress. Iowa Democrat and Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Tom Harkin blasted Bush's veto threat, saying it endangers the legislation vital to rural America.

"For President Bush to continue to take a hard line and threaten to veto a farm bill is unproductive and against the bipartisan spirit that made this bill a reality and that carried it through the Senate with one of the largest votes in the history of farm bills," Harkin said Wednesday. "I urge the President to back away from this position and instead work with farm bill negotiators to come up with a bill he can sign.

"The Senate farm bill is a good, strong measure that balances spending with revenues raised by closing tax loopholes and ending tax abuses -- not by raising taxes -- as the President has suggested." Harkin added.

The new ag secretary Schafer remained largely mum Wednesday on how he'll proceed into the final month of farm bill negotiations, saying only "I appreciate your comments about the farm bill, Mr. President, because I support your direction. I, too, have listened to farmers and ranchers and landowners about what they want in a farm bill."

During a ceremony to swear in new Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that he'll veto the farm bill currently on its way from Congress to his desk if it doesn't meet his administration's criteria for "needed reforms.

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