The U-S Senate agriculture committee Thursday passed its version of the farm bill. Iowa senator Tom Harkin praised components of the bill, including the fact that it’s for five years instead of ten as past farm bills were. It increases the conservation reserve program, doubles acreage for wetlands reserve program, and increases funding for EQUIP, environmental Quality Incentives Program. Harkin says the measure passed by the Senate also contains the first-ever energy policy within a farm bill.He says biomass, ethanol, biodiesel, hydrogen, wind, it’ll provide new income and markets for farmers. Harkin says a third element of the farm bill is rural development. He cites one measure he fought for — The National Rural Cooperative and Business Equity Fund — matches private and government capital to boost investment in rural America. The democratic U-S senator says the senate’s version of the farm bill also contains money to improve broadband Internet access for rural areas. Harkin estimates the cost of the senate’s version of the farm bill will be 38 to 40 billion dollars over five years.
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