Harkin Looks for More Farm Bill Money

The Senate Budget Committee passed a non-binding ag spending figure for 2008 that includes an extra $15 billion.

The Senate Budget Committee met on Thursday to discuss an agricultural spending projection for 2008, and came up with a non-binding figure that includes over $15 billion extra. Now it's up to the Agriculture Committee to find out where that money will come from.

Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, had asked for $20 billion extra for the agriculture baseline. "This is a lot different story than when I chaired the committee in 2001," Harkin told reporters on Thursday. "We had a surplus. We were flush. We could do a lot of things."

This year, Harkin says the committee will have about $23 billion less than when it wrote the last farm bill. "We're going to have a problem looking at the offsets," he says.

However, Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., issued a statement voicing support for funding the farm bill. "The reauthorization of the Farm Bill will provide an economic safety net for agricultural producers, enhance the stewardship of our natural resources, address domestic nutrition needs, increase agricultural research, and improve our export competitiveness."

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