Harkin optimistic about new farm bill

MARCH 15TH, 2008 | Harkin for Senate

By Tim Rohwer , Council Bluffs Daily

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, seemed confident on the completion of a new farm bill, though the process is “arduous,” he said during his weekly telephone news conference Thursday.Both chambers of Congress the previous day agreed to extend the benefits of the 2002 farm bill until April 18. It was to expire today. That action will ensure agriculture, conservation and nutrition programs in Iowa and across the country will continue without interruption until the new bill is completed, Harkin said.

“This extension is actually a sign of progress,” he said. “We wouldn’t have opted for a short-term extension unless we had a strong level of confidence that a farm bill is within reach.”

One sticking point, he said, is where an additional $10 billion over 10 years will come from and how it will be spent. Farm-state lawmakers have had difficulty in agreeing how to pay for the five-year, $286 billion package since it was passed by the House and Senate last year.

“It’s an arduous process, but each day brings us closer to a resolution,” Harkin said.

He has long pushed extra hard for stronger investments in renewable energy, conservation, nutrition assistance, rural development programs and promoting better diets and health for Iowans and all Americans.

“I remain optimistic,” he said. “I would not have introduced this extension unless I believed that an agreement was within reach and that it was achievable within a few extra weeks.”

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