Friday, March 07, 2008

Farm Bill nearing a conclusion?

The FarmPolicy blog today has a roundup of news reports that the Farm Bill may be nearing a conclusion. House and Senate conferees must iron out differences between bills that passed the two houses of Congress in late summer and fall 2007. They must also contend with a veto threat from the administration if the compromise bill includes taxes or other new revenue.

The House and Senate bills both rejected widespread calls for substantial reform of the main row crop subsidies. Under either bill, even very rich farmers will be able to receive in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in subsidies, despite the current year's high farm profits and soaring commodity prices in the midst of the ethanol boom.

The Mulch blog at the Environmental Working Group today links to a press release from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who is still trying to get the Senate to pass a $250,000 limit on farm payments. The proposal would save taxpayers $641 million over five years. I was momentarily confused by this press release, because my foggy memory was having trouble recalling whether the Grassley proposal had passed or failed in the Senate last fall. Funny that I should be unclear on that point -- 56 of the 100 Senators had voted for Grassley's proposal, but it still failed to pass under obscure Senate rules.

Here is the interactive map from the Environmental Working Group of newspaper editorials from around the country that called for farm policy reform in the Farm Bill. Sigh.


Update: edited slightly 3/18 to correct the name of the Environmental Working Group.

1 comment:

Janet said...

Oh, it's so frustrating to see how this has gone, although I'm sure it's irritating to the politicians that the public is paying attention for a change. It's clear that in the end, our lawmakers sadly are more interested in staying in power than in using their power for the benefit of the people who elected them, and I guess that means continuing to bow to the big ag donors. It would be quite a coup if Grassley's amendment passed, but I'm not betting the farm.