Iowa Senator Tom Harkin isn’t surprised the White House has threatened to veto the farm bill put together in the U.S. House. The Administration says it doesn’t like the way the House bill plans to raise taxes to pay for the farm programs. Harkin says that’s one of the problems they face in coming up with the farm bill funding, and he says the Senate is continuing to work to ensure they have the proper funding before they report the bill out.
Harkin says the Senate bill will not be an exact copy of the House bill, as he has some different priorities — namely conservation. Harkin, a Democrat, leads the Senate Agriculture Committee, and says the House bill could also create some trouble when both sides try to put together a compromise bill.
Harkin says:”I can tell you right now I was not happy at all with what they did with conservation and the conservation security program in the House. That was a direct arrow, a direct arrow aimed at the Senate, and that does not bode well for future negotiations.” Harkin was also not happy with reforms on the farm subsidy payments.
Harkin says some of the payment limits did not go far enough, saying the House took a small step forward and two large steps backward. “We just can’t afford to encourage the largest farms by making them eligible for more direct payments. So I expect a vigorous debate on this,” Harkin says.
The Senator says the payments encourage the big farms to get bigger and don’t help young people get into farming. “When one percent of the farmers are getting 17-percent of the money, that’s just not right, and the House doesn’t do anything to fix that,” Harkin says. Harkin says he believes those who want stricter payment limits “will have the better part of the argument on this.”