The U.S. Senate approved a 286-billion dollar farm bill Friday that was managed by Iowan Tom Harkin , the chair of the Senate Ag Committee. Harkin, a Democrat, says the bill is a compromise, but still makes important changes.
Harkin says, "It has reforms, I mean uh, yes, we’ve got some good reforms. Does it have as many as I would have liked? No, but you know, these are the compromises that you have to make."
Harkin says they brought the average gross income limit to make you eligible for farm programs from 2.5 million to $750,000. Harkin says the bill also does away with the "three entity rule," which he says will cut in half a number of the payments to some of the largest farmers. He says they also did "direct attribution," so they will "know exactly where every dime goes." Harkin says these are "significant reforms."
The bill has been under the threat of a veto by President Bush because of tax packages used to pay for increased spending. Harkin says he believes the revenues in the bill are "generally and widely accepted" and says that’s why they got 79 votes. He says with the 79 votes, he believes the White House will eventually work with them to pass the bill.
While the vote in the Senate is more than enough to override a veto, there is not enough votes in the House. Harkin isn’t concerned. Harkin says they’ll go to a House/Senate conference committee and hopefully work out a bill that will have a better vote in the House. Harkin says this farm bill had more votes than any other farm bill since 1973.