May 2, 2008
May 2, 2008 -- Working to complete a Farm Bill that can survive a presidential veto, lawmakers sent the White House a sixth extension of the current farm policy. This extension gives Congress until May 16 to finalize the new bill.
It has been reported that Congress has made a lot of progress on the next Farm Bill after a six-hour meeting Thursday night that stretched into Friday morning. There are now just nine Farm Bill policy issues that are unresolved and congressional staffers are expected to work those out over the weekend.
Highlights of the bill include a big increase in nutrition and food aid spending. The new Farm Bill does have some new safety net provisions for agriculture producers, including a $3.7 billion permanent agriculture disaster aid program, an optional revenue-based counter-cyclical pilot program beginning in 2010 and an increase in target rates and loan rates for various commodities.
Early this morning, House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Senate Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (Iowa) agreed that the 2008 Farm Bill is essentially complete.
"We will have sheep producers from 21 states in our nation's capitol next week talking with their respective legislative offices as well as with U.S. Department of Agriculture officials about the priorities of the industry," commented Peter Orwick, executive director for the American Sheep Industry Association. "The sheep industry supports the Farm Bill to strengthen sheep production and disaster relief championed by Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.)." Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33