Farm bill negotiators and major farm organizations have begun efforts to gather the 290 House votes needed to override a 2007 Farm Bill veto promised by President Bush. Shortly after House and Senate leaders outlined the major features of the compromise legislation May 8, they began lobbying members of Congress for support.

President Bush has long held he would veto any bill that did not meet his demands for limitations on federal subsidies and decreased farm spending.

“I am eager to get the farm bill on the House floor for a vote next week and on the president’s desk,” said Rep. Mike Conaway, (R-Texas), noting the agriculture community had been waiting too long. “In the event, President Bush vetoes this legislation, I will vote to override the veto.”

 “I am a happy man,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, (D-Iowa), chairman of the farm bill conference committee. “One of the members of the staff likened writing a farm bill to passing a kidney stone. I’ve never had one, but I think I know what he means.” Harkin and Rep. Collin Peterson, (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, referred frequently to the fact nearly three-fourths of the spending in the long-awaited farm bill will go for nutrition programs.

“This is a strong, bipartisan farm bill that benefits every American from Cumming, Iowa, population 162, to New York City, population 8 million,” Harkin said. “The bill provides a strong safety net, so it’s good for farmers and producers. Consumers will like it because it will increase farmers’ markets and ensure a safe, dependable supply of high quality food.”

Harkin said the compromise agreement also provides significant reforms of farm support programs. He and others repeated the increased funding for nutrition programs provided by the bill. “This shouldn’t be called the farm bill,” said Sen. Kent Conrad, (D-N.D.), the Senate Budget Committee chairman author of much of the new law. “It really is much more than that — it’s the food bill.”

Source: Southeast Farm Press