Home / News / Policy news / War of words continues on farm bill

War of words continues on farm bill

Agriculture.com Staff 05/09/2008 @ 12:45pm

Calling Congress' new farm bill too expensive, trade distorting and lacking any real reform, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer repeated his prediction that President George W. Bush will veto the farm bill when it arrives on his desk.

"I have visited face to face with the President. He was very clear and very direct. He will veto this bill when he gets it," Schafer told reporters Friday.

Schafer said that the bill increases subsidies at a time of record farm income, will use more tax revenue at a time of tight budgets and failed to make overseas emergency food aid more efficient by refusing to adopt an Administration proposal to allow local food purchases of up to 25% of food aid.

The bill increases loan rates on 15 crops and target prices on 17. It's increase in spending over baseline projections is more than double the $10 billion that is claimed for the bill, Schafer said, because of shifts in the timing of some payments.

Schafer said the Bush administration wanted a smaller increase over the baseline, for the bill that spends some $300 billion over five years, But it was willing to go along with it if there was real reform in the farm bill. The administration at first proposed an income means test that would deny payments to those with more than $200,000 in adjusted gross income on their tax returns. That amounts to about two percent of income earners, Schafer said. It later indicated support for a $500,000 AGI.

Schafer said the final bill has an income test for farmers that's somewhere between $750,000 and $950,000.

"I have to wonder if there's even one farmer out there who would be removed from support payouts because of this law," he said.

He said the administration did compromise on spending levels for the farm bill.

"We've said from day one here, if we're going to increase spending, we need to see reform," Schafer said.

The bill has many new programs Schafer likes, including incentives for cellulosic ethenol, And that's why he expects a tough battle in Congress to prevent a veto-proof majority voting for the bill.

"I think it is an uphill struggle here," he said. "They kind of put something in there for everybody."

Calling Congress' new farm bill too expensive, trade distorting and lacking any real reform, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer repeated his prediction that President George W. Bush will veto the farm bill when it arrives on his desk.

Senator Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat who chairs the Senate's Budget Committee and is an influential Ag Committee member, brought out his own arsenal of farm bill statistics to lob at White House critics Friday.

CancelPost Comment
MORE FROM AGRICULTURE.COM STAFF more +

Farm and ranch risk management resources By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am Government resources USDA Risk Management Agency Download free insurance program and…

Major types of crop insurance policies By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am Crop insurance for major field crops comes in two types: yield-based coverage that pays an…

Marketing 101 - Are options the right tool… By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am "If you are looking for a low risk way to protect yourself against prices moving either higher or…

MEDIA CENTERmore +
This container should display a .swf file. If not, you may need to upgrade your Flash player.
"Turnaround Tuesday" Fades