Senate passes farm bill; legislation moves to president's desk

By Kris Bevill | May 09, 2008
Web exclusive posted May 15, 2008 at 2:08 p.m. CST

Following the lead set by the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate passed the 2008 farm bill today by a vote of 81-15.

The House passed the bill yesterday by an overwhelming vote of 318-106.

Earlier this week, President George W. Bush said he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk. However, considering the majority of support the bill has received in both houses of Congress, there will clearly be enough votes for a two-thirds majority needed to override his veto.

Congress has finally agreed on a farm bill after five short-term extensions and much debate about subsidy payments, increased disaster aid, conservation program compensation and nutrition aid. The $300 billion bill now being sent to the President also urges the government to buy surplus sugar to be sold to ethanol producers as a supplement to corn and cuts the per-gallon ethanol tax credit for refiners from 51 cents to 45 cents.

Bush has continually urged members of Congress to extend the current farm bill for one full year rather than pass a bill that "increases farm subsidy rates, spends too much and fails to reform farm programs for the future."

Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said Congress has fulfilled its part in putting forth a farm bill that serves the American people. "Like any compromise bill resulting from hard bargaining among regional and other interests, this farm bill is far from perfect," he said. "But no piece of legislation is. It includes significant reforms, as well as major advances. It deserves the President's signature. Inexplicably, the White House seems intent on destroying the harvest just as the seeds are being planted."