Senator Tom Harkin says he’s not willing to give up on getting a new Farm Bill drafted. Two republican Senators suggest it’s time to pass a stopgap measure that’d extend current federal farm policy for a year, but Harkin, a democrat who’s chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, says that’s not necessary. Harkin says the current “Freedom to Farm” legislation doesn’t expire ’til September 30th. Harkin says the republicans who’re calling for temporary action have little standing with him.The Kansas Senator who’s pushing for the temporary, one-year extension led the Senate filibuster which Harkin says prevented Senate passage of the Farm Bill in December, and Harkin says Kansan Pat Roberts headed the House Ag Committee in 1996, which drafted a Farm Bill six months after the old one had expired. But Congressman Jim Nussle, who, like Harkin, serves on the committee trying to draft a compromise version of the Farm Bill, is just about ready to give up.Nussle says he’s close to abandoning hope that a Farm Bill can be passed this year. He says he felt from the beginning that farmers need more predictability than some stopgap measure.Nussle says there will be plenty of blame to toss around if the Farm Bill falls apart.Nussle says democrat Senators have dug in their heels on a number of components, and refuse to compromise with the republican-led House or the Bush Administration. Harkin says Senators on the conference committee trying to strike a compromise on the Farm Bill want to spend more than House members, and while Senators support a ban on meatpacker ownership of livestock, House members are opposed. Harkin, though, is optimistic an end is near. He says hopefully, by next week, the Farm Bill will be done.
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