Following a one-week extension beyond the April 18 extended deadline, President Bush is getting serious about forcing Congress to act on the long-overdue farm bill. He pointed to several unacceptable aspects of the House/Senate joint committee's progress and called on Congress to extend the previous farm bill for one year.
"I am disappointed that Congress has failed to put forward a good farm bill…I therefore call on Congress to provide our agricultural producers with the certainty to make sound business and planting decisions about this year's crop by extending current law for at least one year," Bush said in a statement.
Bush called proposed tax revenue provisions that would fund $10 billion or more in cost overruns "unacceptable." He further noted that the bill does not include key reforms that the Administration had previously and specifically requested. "With record farm income, now is not the time for Congress to ask other sectors of the economy to pay higher taxes in order to increase the size of government," Bush said.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) blasted back at the president. He called Bush's statement, "just the latest example of this Administration's lack of cooperation to enact a new, stronger farm bill."
The House/Senate conference committee has less than three days left in its one-week extension before it must present new farm legislation to the President, pass another extension, or revert back to original farm laws enacted in 1949.
Meanwhile the crop planting season has already started and is getting further underway.