Congress Hands Farm Bill to President Bush
Congress this week passed a final version of the Farm Bill. The vast, $290 billion measure awaits the approval of President Bush, who has threatened to veto it.
On Thursday, the Senate voted 81-15 in favor, passing the bill to President Bush, who has criticized it as fiscally irresponsible and favoring rich farmers at a time when crop prices have reached record highs. However, Wednesday's 318-106 House vote in favor of the bill represents a two-thirds majority, enough to override a veto.
Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer told the Associated Press that the bill has the wrong priorities.
"It does not target help for the farmers who really need it, and it increases the size and cost of government while jeopardizing the future of legitimate farm programs by damaging the credibility of farm bills in general," he said.
The Farm Bill would provide about $170 million in relief for Pacific Northwest communities that depend on the region's struggling commercial salmon fisheries; mandates country-of-origin labeling for produce and proteins other than seafood; and charges the U.S. Department of Agriculture with inspecting catfish, both domestic and imported, under the USDA's Federal Meat Inspection Act.