Farm Bill Future Still Unclear

Senate leaders say progress is being made, but many believe it will have to wait until 2008.

Published on: Dec 4, 2007

The Senate reconvened Monday after a two-week Thanksgiving recess and began discussing the farm bill which remains stalled over how many and what kind of rider amendments will be allowed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says there has been progress during the recess as he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spent time working on moving the bill forward.

"Prior to the holiday we were unable to complete action on the farm bill because of the overwhelming number of amendments filed; many of which had nothing to do with farming," Reid says. "Senator McConnell and I are working through these amendments to come up with a reasonable list. While we've been on Thanksgiving break, staff has been working and I think we are at a point where we should be able to do a farm bill by unanimous consent."

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., says that even if the Senate completes their bill in the next couple days and conference committee appointees are named, he doesn't see how they will finish the bill before Christmas.

There are several issues that will need to be reconciled between the House and Senate versions of the bill and there is also the threat of a Presidential veto. Peterson hopes the administration will see the light and he can initiate a plan of action he's had for a while.

"Once the Senate got their bill done and we got conferees appointed, I was figuring on calling up the President and him and I sitting down and figuring out how to work this out," Peterson says.

However the big question remaining is when the Senate will take action.