Farm Bill May Be Tabled Until After 2008 Vote

Now that the farm bill has been blocked in the Senate, there's a good chance that it won't come up again until after the 2008 elections. President Bush had threatened to veto the legislation, but that may not be necessary.

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JOHN YDSTIE, host:

It looks like the farm bill is on its last legs. Its backers will spend this Thanksgiving week trying to salvage the bill, which the president has threatened to veto. Many think it's doomed, at least until after next year's elections.

NPR's Adam Davidson reports.

ADAM DAVIDSON: This is not what most people expected. When the farm bill failed through the House, most observers imagined that the Senate would pass it swiftly. But farm bill advocates lost the crucial vote late last week. A bill that legislators and lobbyists spent five years carefully crafting now looks all but dead.

At its core, the farm bill transfers around $300 billion from some Americans and gives it to others. The winners of this government payout are farmers who grow what are called commodity crops, sometimes called the white crops - corn, wheat, rice, cotton and sugar. Another big set of winners: urban poor.

The farm bill is what gives them food stamps. But these farm bill advocates have faced off against some angry opponents. President Bush and Libertarians say the bill hurts taxpayers who have to pay for it.

Some environmentalists say the farm bill encourages overproduction through the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Farm bill advocates are working on a way to revive the legislation.

Meanwhile, most farmers need not fret. Subsidies will likely continue to come under temporary extensions of the previous farm bill.

Adam Davidson, NPR News.

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