President Bush is in talks with Agriculture Secretary Ed Shafer over the Farm Bill, a five-year, $285 billion bill currently being considered by Congress. Bush disagrees with the proposed new $3.8 billion farm disaster program as well as new perks for the sugar industry included in the legislation. He also objects to the $10 billion in extra spending and the bill would allow over the measure’s $560 billion, 10-year baseline. Lawmakers aren't expecting Bush to till up support for the bill.
Should a presidential veto be on the shopping list, supporters in Congress have a plan to override and save the increases in food aid to poor Americans. The bill also proposes a $10.3 billion increase for food stamps and other nutrition programs — lawmakers think these programs could be piggybacked onto other, must-pass legislation.
How does a law become a grocery bill? In Time magazine this week, a teeny tiny item showed just how the bill could lower food prices and grocery costs for families. To see how,
- Disaster Relief: The very $3.8 billion program Bush objects to could help farmers hit by weather hurdles helping them get back on their feet and ensuring a steady supply to market.
- Ethanol Subsidy Cuts: The bill aims to cut tax credits and subsidies more efficient means of biofuel production like using wood and grasses.
- Food Stamps: The bill is set to increase the minimum food-stamp allowance, which has been set at $10 since 1977.
- Emergency Food Assistance: Programs like food banks and pantries could get up to $100 million more in funding, increasing the number of people they can help.
Bush has said the bill is "bloated" and disagrees with payouts to multimillionaire farmers that actually do little to stem food costs. He said, "Congress can reform our farm programs — and should — by passing a fiscally responsible bill that treats our farmers fairly and does not impose new burdens on American taxpayers."
Does the problem lie in combining nutrition and hunger plans in with farm payouts? In an era where family farms are on the decline, are farm subsidies as needed? Is it prudent to protect our food supply or is our farm policy full of weeds?