Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Despite Deadlines Farm Bill Debate Proves Interminable

The farm bill again received new life in a one-week extension passed by President Bush late Friday, April 18, which marked the end of a previous one-month extension. The most recent extension was prompted by legislative request in what many hope will be the final, or at least penultimate, effort to harmonize House and Senate versions of the bill, and to produce a substantially trimmed bill that would meet with the President’s demands. Legislators may propose another extended deadline in order to prepare the bill for a final vote. Though optimists may see an end in site, some are predicting further extensions of the 2002 farm bill lasting a year or more. Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, notes: "Every extension is bad for hungry people, because every extension means that food stamps benefits still have not been raised and that food bank shelves have not been filled." The farm bill is a massive piece of legislation that includes provisions for the food stamp program, agricultural subsidies, nutrition and conservation initiatives.

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