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Farm Bill Hearings Planned for Late 2005

Completion of bill expected in early 2007 unless lawmakers try to get a bill finished ahead of the 2006 elections.

Agriculture panel chairmen say the bulk of the work of the next farm bill will be done during 2006, with a final bill expected in early 2007, according to the National Journal's CongressDaily.

The Senate Ag Committee plans to spend $2.1 million during the second half of FY05 and $3.7 million in FY06 to hold hearings in Washington D.C. and around the country, says a spokesman for Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss.

With hearings in 2006, some question whether that puts pressure on Congress to complete a bill before the 2006 election cycle. Representatives from both the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union hope Congress waits until early 2007 to wrap up the bill so the United States can maintain its bargaining power in the World Trade Organization talks. Both groups also expressed that budget constraints would likely be less in 2007 than 2006.

CongressDaily also reports that both the House and Senate chairmen "intend to defend mandatory farm programs from cuts in the FY06 budget." Chambliss says U.S. agriculture "can't afford a reduction in the budget."

The current farm bill is set to expire in 2007.

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