The Bush administration has been urging the Senate to delay completion of a new farm bill until next year. Along with that plea has come assurances that the White House is willing to negotiate for more spending.

The pressure isn’t limited to Senate members either. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman and White House officials have telephoned both senators and farm group lobbyists in recent days to gain their support for a delay in passing a new farm bill. So far, nine organizations that represent producers who raise corn, soybeans, cattle, hogs, poultry, fruits, vegetables and other crops have agreed to support the delay until next spring. In a letter the group sent to Sen. Daschle, D-S.D., the farm groups said that rushing a bill this fall “could well result in policies and programs that do not effectively address today’s needs.” Missing from the letter was the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union as well as the groups that speak for wheat and cotton growers.

Daschle says that existing programs are inadequate and wants to finish a new farm bill before 2002. “No bill this year puts producers in a bad position for another year,” said Jay Carson, a spokesman for Sen. Daschle.

The House has already passed a $170 billion farm bill over White House objections. And, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., has proposed a five-year, $82 billion farm bill that would phase out crop subsidies, double spending on conservation and pay farmers to act to reduce their financial risk. The Bush administration endorsed Sen. Lugar’s farm bill proposal last week.

Associated Press