March 7, 2008
March 7, 2008 -- The Bush administration, in a letter, has offered to allow Congress to go $10 billion over budget in drafting the 2008 Farm Bill so long as lawmakers agree to make significant subsidy and funding reforms.
The Bush administration's Farm Bill counter-offer contains a long list of so-called reforms that it says are non-negotiable. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said that list of non-negotiable reforms includes, among many other things, inclusion of a revenue based counter-cyclical program with recourse loans, elimination of the sugar-to-ethanol program, ending the prohibition of planting fruits and vegetables on program crop acres and setting aside 25 percent of emergency international food aid funds under PL-480 for cash purchases of local commodities in the countries receiving U.S. food aid.
The Bush administration's counter-offer also reportedly demands that no current loan rates or target prices be increased from current law.
"We're going to listen to them and we're going to pay attention to what they say, but we're not going to let them dictate what's in the Farm Bill," Peterson warned.
Peterson predicted the House and Senate will reach a broad agreement on the overall Farm Bill before Congress adjourns for a two week recess on March 14. That, he said, will clear the way for Congressional passage of a new Farm Bill by mid-April.
"So my guess is we're probably going to have to extend the current law one more month until April 15," said Peterson. "That will give us time to finish the bill and make sure we got everything right and be able to get it done, you know, get it done on the 15th of April, which, after all of this, is maybe an appropriate date." Reprinted in part from Brownfield Ag News for America