Senate Makes Funding Proposal

Administration says Senate suggestion unacceptable.

The Senate on Friday proposed a funding level for the Farm Bill that most estimate to be about $12.3 billion above baseline. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer and Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner released a statement conveying their disappointment with the offer.

"The Senate's most recent farm bill proposal recommends increases in taxes and significantly grows the size and scope of government while failing to implement much needed reform in our current farm bill programs," the statement reads. "The President has said time and time again that he will not support a bill that raises taxes and uses taxpayer dollars to increase the size of government, and that is exactly what this proposal does."

However Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., says he had found about $8 billion in revenue raisers that aren't tax raises.

"The $8 billion we found by looking through the President's own budget submissions on revenue items that he proposed," Conrad says. "He does not consider them tax increases but the Administration has not agreed to use those revenue sources for the purpose of writing a farm bill."

Although the Senate proposal is more than twice the $6 billion that the White House had agreed to, House Ag Ranking Member Bob Gootlatte, R-Va., has said he could support a number higher than originally agreed upon. Reports indicate that the House may counter with an offer of $9.5 billion. If the bill can retain support of House Republicans, agriculture leadership is prepared to move forward with bill.

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