Recess Report: Bipartisan Praise for House Farm Bill

August 17, 2007

USDA photo by:Tim McCabeWASHINGTON (August 17, 2007)—Much to the delight of farmers and ranchers in rural America, members of the Senate Agriculture Committee have repeatedly praised the agricultural provisions of the House farm bill during Congress’ August recess.

“It’s pretty hard to argue against the House-passed farm bill,” Republican Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.) said via conference call last week at the sugar industry’s annual convention.

“My template in the Senate is going to be what [Agriculture Committee Chairman] Collin Peterson did in the House,” he told a crowd of 1,500 people the next day at Minnesota’s Farmfest.

Applause from the Farmfest crowd “came frequently when provisions of the [House farm] bill were recited and was particularly strong when people said it would continue the basic policies of the current farm bill, passed in 2002,” reported one south Minnesota newspaper.

Just days later at a farm bill field hearing in the neighboring state of North Dakota, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) praised the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 27.

“Agriculture is the engine that drives North Dakota’s economy, and the farm bill is the fuel that runs that engine,” said Conrad.

Sens. Coleman and Conrad aren’t alone.

Iowa GOP Sen. Charles Grassley recently explained to a large farm radio network that the House’s farm policy should be held intact and to do otherwise would be unilateral disarmament in ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) talks.

And the top Republican on the Committee, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), told a group of Georgia growers, “we’re not about to let the WTO write this farm bill,” which will resemble the House version.

Such praise is not surprising. The House farm bill has won the support of nearly all major farm groups in the country, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, which rarely see eye-to-eye.

The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to take up the farm bill in September, but it will likely be October or November before the bill reaches the Senate floor.