Administration Still Plans to Veto Farm Bill

Many legislators and other groups urge President to sign the bill.

Published on: May 16, 2008

The Farm Bill has passed both chambers of Congress; the House by a 3 to 1 margin and the Senate by more than 5 to 1. However Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner says the President will veto bill.

"We wish the members had not chosen to send this bill to the President," Conner says. "The President, when he receives this bill from Congress, will veto it. We are going to continue to make the case of the need for a forward-looking, reform-minded farm bill. This bill does not meet that definition."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., disagreed with that sentiment during Thursday's debate before the Senate voted on the Farm Bill.

"This bill has reform in it," Reid said. "Could we have done more? Perhaps. But if we'd done more we wouldn't have gotten a bill."

Agricultural leaders from both sides of the aisle are attempting to change the President's mind about vetoing the Farm Bill. Senate Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harking, D-Iowa, stresses that it is a bipartisan bill and that he has heard that former Ag Secretary Mike Johanns has said he would support the bill.

"It is not perfect but it does help touch the lives in a positive way of people all across this country," says Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. "I hope the President will think long and hard before he decides to do whatever he ultimately does."

In addition to Congressional leaders, other organizations are calling for approval of the Farm Bill. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association prefers it to either a reversion to the permanent farm policy law passed in 1949, or a long-term extension of the 2002 Farm Bill.

"Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have worked very hard to deliver a Farm Bill that provides a certain level of stability and consistency for agricultural producers," says NCBA executive director of legislative affairs Colin Woodall. "No agricultural group is coming away with everything it wanted. But it's a bill we can all live with, and it is the best option available to us at this time."

The Farm Bill is expected to reach the President's desk on Tuesday.