Farm Bill’s Commodity Title Becomes Law

May 23, 2008

WASHINGTON (May 23, 2008)—Despite a technical error and widespread confusion, 14 out of the 15 titles of the farm bill became law yesterday after the U.S. Senate voted to override President Bush’s veto. The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to override the veto.

A technical glitch led to one of the bill’s sections—the title dealing with food aid and other international programs—from being part of the veto override vote, but that title is expected to become law shortly after Congress returns from its Memorial Day break.

The bill’s authors realized the confusion that this unintentional exclusion caused and moved quickly to reassure the nation’s farmers that they officially had a new, long-term safety net in place.

“I wish to make sure there is no doubt in anyone’s mind now—14 of the 15 titles in the farm bill conference report are now law. We do not require anybody else’s signature; 14 of the 15 titles are now the law of the land,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said from the Senate floor shortly after the vote.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued a joint statement to help explain the situation and clear up confusion:

“Following veto override votes of 316-108 in the House and 82-13 in the Senate, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 has been enacted into law, with the exception of the bill’s trade title. “The trade title was included in the conference report passed by Congress but was inadvertently left out of the official copy of the farm bill that the President vetoed. Today, the House also took action to correct the clerical error that resulted in the unintentional omission of the trade title from the enrolled farm bill and ensure that the entire farm bill is enacted into law swiftly. Most of the farm bill is now law and the Administration can begin implementing the new programs and policies immediately.

“The Food, Conservation and Energy Act makes historic new investments in food, farm and conservation programs that are priorities for all Americans, which is why a broad, bipartisan coalition voted overwhelmingly to pass this bill.

“While no one got everything they wanted in this Farm Bill, we struck a balance that meets the pressing needs of working American families struggling with high food prices and that supports America’s farmers and ranchers as they continue to provide a safe, abundant, homegrown supply of food and fiber while protecting our natural resources and developing new sources of renewable energy.”

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) also got into the act and praised the new law in today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution. “There is no question we crafted a bipartisan and fiscally responsible farm bill that moves in the direction of what the Bush administration requested,” he wrote. “It is a good bill for Georgia, and Congress was right to override the president’s veto.”