Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bush makes direct threat to veto Farm Bill as it is

Following signals from the White House and the Department of Agriculture that President Bush would veto any Farm Bill he does not like, Bush confirmed that threat today himself. “I’m confident we can come together to get a good farm bill, but if Congress sends me legislation that raises taxes or (does) not make needed reforms, I’m going to veto it,” Bush said during a ceremony to swear in the new agriculture secretary, Ed Schafer.

The administration objects to the inclusion of tax language in the bill and wants tighter limits on crop subsidies. "The administration wants the income eligibility limit for subsidy recipients lowered from $2.5 million to $200,000 a year," reports Philip Brasher of the Des Moines Register. "Individuals with incomes over $200,000 don’t need farm subsidies, administration officials say. Farm groups say that is too restrictive. Democrats say the veto threat is delaying enactment of a new Farm Bill." (Read more)

Jeff Caldwell of Agriculture Online points out that if a new bill is not passed by March 15, by law the farm program would return to the 1949 Farm Bill, or "permanent law." (Read more)

Bush used the ceremony to highlight other key agriculture issues, reports Peter Shinn of the Brownfield Network. He mentioned opening foreign markets for American beef, and he talked about renewable fuels, which he did not specifically mention during his State of the Union address. "We recognize that farmers also have the potential to help our nation solve one of the greatest challenges, and that is our dependence on foreign oil," Bush said. "I'd much rather our farmers be growing energy than trying to buy it from other parts of the world, so we will continue to work on - for renewable fuels, including a new generation of ethanol and biodiesel." (Read more)

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