Thursday, April 03, 2008

Disaster and food-stamp programs at center of what could be final obstacle to passing Farm Bill

Sen. Tom Harkin, the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman, said Thursday that the Farm Bill is all but done, reports Peter Shinn of the Brownfield Network. There is one final obstacle: "How to come up with the roughly $10 billion over the Congressional Budget Office baseline for farm programs that lawmakers have agreed to spend on the measure."

About $4 billion of that money is slated for a permanent disaster relief program, and Harkin said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel of New York City might want some of that for food stamps, which are part of the bill's nutrition title. "We've got a new disaster program for $4 billion that's going to a few states," Harkin told Shinn. "So Rangel's looking at that and saying, 'Why should it go there? Why shouldn't it go to nutrition?'" (Read more)

Harkin said yesterday that the dispute needs to be solved in the next 48 hours, reports Dan Looker of Agriculture Online. "That's necessary for Ag Committee staffers to have time to put a final draft of a bill in writing and get a conference committee of House and Senate Ag Committee members to approve it before the latest Farm Bill extension runs out on April 18," Looker writes. (Read more)

For more perspective on the Farm Bill, check out this report from Philip Brasher of the Des Moines Register.

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