Farms Bill Approved by Senate

Posted by Jennifer Karlen on Sunday, February 8th, 2009 at 9:32pm.

farms-bill_591The long awaited Farms Bill was approved in a overwhelming vote by the Senate.  This bill is a 5 year plan that President Bush has promised to veto.  However, the vote came back 318 in favor versus 106 against - which gives this farms bill the momentum and strength to override a veto by the President (the bill received more than 2/3 majority in favor of it).

The farms bill is now estimated at $289 billion over the course of 5 years.  And if enough farms continued to participate in the program, the cost could escalate to an estimated $700 billion over 10 years.  Critics point to the farms bill over burdening the American tax payer, while those in favor champion its cause as reinvesting in our heartland.

Approximately 2/3 of the cost in the 1st five years is allocated to nutrition and food stamps.  The existing subsidies to corn, wheat, cotton, and rice remain essentially unchanged.  But it does include a $3.8 billion permanent disaster payment program that would assist persons that have had harsh farming conditions such as Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

It does however offer enhanced assistance for farms growing fruits and vegetables as well as offering between an estimated $1.3 billion and $3 billion for special crop marketing efforts, research, and production.

One important note for horse owners was attempted to be included by Senator Mitch McConnell into the build, which includes a tax break for race horse owners.  The legislation added provides that race horses would be depreciated over 3 years tax-wise, regardless of when the horse actually began its training.  This provision however did NOT make it as an earmark because it would have affected many thousands of persons in almost every state in the US.  Estimates for this provision would have placed it at approximately $126 million in costs over 10 years.

Regardless, it looks like the Farm Bill is going to be approved, despite President Bush’s objections as a significant majority of the elected officials are now behind and are lending its support to override any veto efforts by the President.