Farm bill to boost funding for food stamps, land conservation, biofuels

OCTOBER 19TH, 2007 | Harkin for Senate

By JENS MANUEL KROGSTAD, For The Globe Gazette

WASHINGTON — A farm bill expected to reach the Senate floor in two weeks will provide additional funding for food stamp benefits, land conservation and biofuels.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said Thursday the legislation will include an optional crop subsidy program in which farmers can choose smaller direct payments in return for more protection against poor yields and falling prices.

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Harkin reaches deal on farm bill; new subsidies included

OCTOBER 18TH, 2007 | Harkin for Senate

The new payments would be triggered when revenue for a crop falls below a state target level.


Washington, D.C. – Farmers could protect themselves against crop failures, as well as low commodity prices, under an optional subsidy plan that key senators agreed to write into a new farm bill.

The new program has been a top priority for many Iowa farmers and the National Corn Growers Association but is opposed by the crop insurance industry. The plan would likely reduce insurance premiums.

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Harkin pushes for conservation money

OCTOBER 17TH, 2007 | Harkin for Senate

While the Senate Agriculture and Finance Committees continued to work on a dollar amount and funding mechanism for the new farm bill, some items began to take shape this week, including the possible future of the Conservation Security Program.

The CSP, a brainchild of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, during his stint as chairman during the 2002 farm bill debate, has been a disappointment to many, thanks to funding and implementation problems.

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Harkin: New farm bill would protect farmer

OCTOBER 17TH, 2007 | Harkin for Senate

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 (UPI)—Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin said a newly minted farm bill would protect grain and cotton farmers and increase spending for fruit and vegetable producers.

The Iowa Democrat and chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee said the bill would create an optional crop-subsidy plan corn-growers want and would increase funding for conservation, bioenergy and nutrition programs, the Des Moines Register reported Wednesday.

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Harkin’s 3rd-quarter fundraising tops $1 mil

OCTOBER 10TH, 2007 | Harkin for Senate

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., has $3 million cash in the bank and raised more than $1 million during the last three months as the 2008 election draws closer, aides to Harkin said this afternoon.

Reports to the Federal Election Commission are due later this month reflecting fundraising July 1 through Sept. 30.

Harkin has not yet formally announced his re-election but has been raising money for months and has staff already in place as Democrats seek to retain and widen their control of the U.S. Senate in 2008.

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Harkin offers two food safety-related proposals

OCTOBER 10TH, 2007 | Harkin for Senate


WASHINGTON — Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said he will again mandate a presidential commission on food safety in the farm bill being drafted in the Senate. The commission was created in the 2002 farm bill but was never constituted.

“The government panel announced by the White House earlier this year will review only importe foods, a shortsighted goal given the increasing number of food safety recalls happening with food produced in the united states,” Mr. Harkin said. “But to examine the safety of both importe and domestically produced food, comprehensive recommendations from a food safety commission are needed. the farm bill i am working on in the senate will include a presidential commission to examine the entire system.”

Separate from the farm bill process, Mr. Harkin introduced Sept. 20 the Fresh Produce Safety Act of 2007 that would provide the Food and Drug Administration the authority to make its current voluntary guidelines on the handling of fresh produce mandatory. The bill was cosponsored by Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois and Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin.

Mr. Harkin acknowledged industry groups have taken steps to restore consumer confidence.

“But this regional, patchwork approach is simply not adequate,” he said. “We need a national program to ensure the safety of all fresh produce in every supermarket in America.”

The bill would require produce companies follow food safety guidelines that currently are voluntary. The legislation would require national standards tailored to specific types of produce and the particular risk factors arising from the way each is grown and handled. It would require increased inspections of operations that grow and process fresh produce. It would establish a surveillance system to identify and stop the sources of fresh produce contamination of produce, and a research program to aid in understanding and preventing contamination of produce. Imported produce would be held to the same standards as produce grown in the United States.

The increased inspections would be conducted on the basis of risk assessment, with processing facilities or grower operations differentiated into low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk enterprises according to what is handled and the track record of the facilities.

The bill also would require more scrupulous recordkeeping and ensure the F.D.A. has prompt and unfettered access to relevant company records.

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Billions More Added to Farm Bill

OCTOBER 6TH, 2007 | Harkin for Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel approved billions of extra dollars for the farm bill Thursday as senators continue to squabble over how to pay agricultural subsidies and the nation’s nutrition programs.

The politically popular legislation has become increasingly entangled in spats between members from different regions of the country in recent weeks, pushing the bill’s passage closer to election season next year. The bill is a top issue for voters in most rural states.

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Harkin expects veto fight over funding bill

OCTOBER 5TH, 2007 | Harkin for Senate

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, is preparing for another veto fight as he brings an education and health funding bill forward. Harkin says he hopes for strong bipartisan support in the Senate, “that’s when the battle will be joined. This will be the first 2008 appropriations bill to go to the president, and he’s already pledged to veto the bill, as it contains 11 billion dollars in funding about what he’s requested.”

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