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New farm bill has something for everyone almost

Seems like just the other day farm organizations were saying they would be perfectly happy if Congress would simply change the date on the 2002 farm bill to 2007 and call it done.

Oh, some wanted to tinker with the counter-cyclical payments, but, for the most part, the mainline farm groups would have been content with an extension of the current law.

(At least that's what farmers told former Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns at his farm bill forums, but that didn't fit with the Bush administration's agenda.)

Now you probably couldn't find a farm organization willing to walk away from either the farm bill the House passed in July or the bill that was being held up in the Senate by a Republican filibuster at press time.

None of the farm groups are totally happy with the House bill or the version the Senate was expected to take up this week if its leaders could figure out how to keep it from being loaded up with amendments.

But the National Corn Growers Association has an option for its revenue counter-cyclical payment.

The National Association of Wheat Growers has higher loan and target prices for wheat.

Ditto for the American Soybean Association, although ASA wants more changes in the law.

The National Cotton Council has farm bill language aimed at making U.S. textile mills more competitive and restoring storage credits on loan cotton.

The rice organizations, the USA Rice Federation and the U.S. Rice Producers Association, have a simplified marketing loan.

Fruit and vegetable producers have a new program that would provide $1.6 billion in research and marketing assistance. The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, a national coalition of more than 120 specialty crop organizations, was among several groups that have asked the Senate to pass its bill.

“The reauthorization of the farm bill represents an opportunity to move agriculture into the 21st Century and make federal farm policy more equitable for all of agriculture,” it said.

“A simple extension of the previous farm bill would represent a missed opportunity for the specialty crop industry and the recognition of our priorities such as improving nutrition, enhancing research capabilities, eradicating invasive pests and diseases.”

Livestock groups say they need the corrections to mandatory country-of-origin labeling or COOL regulations that are in the bills and the increased funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Conservation, environmental and nutrition groups say the current bills don't do enough, but the latter have to be encouraged by the favorable reception to an amendment increasing food stamp benefits Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., was expected to offer in the Senate.

About the only entity that hasn't had something good to say about the legislation is the White House, and some question whether a presidential veto of a popular farm bill would stick. With the measure having so much to offer, you figure someone will find a way to pass it sooner or later.

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