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Tuesday, December 12, 2017
 Farm Bill Passes U.S. House With Veto-Proof Majority - Bloomberg News  

By Alan Bjerga
 
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a five-year, $289 billion farm bill with enough votes to override a presidential veto, making it more likely to become law.
 
The plan to boost food aid for the poor and keep U.S. farm subsidies largely intact was approved 318-106 in the House, more than the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto threatened yesterday by President George W. Bush. The president said the plan exceeds spending guidelines, distorts trade and subsidizes farmers as crop prices reach records.
 
``We did our work in the House,'' House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, told reporters in Washington after today's vote. ``We presented a strong bipartisan vote. The administration has their function. Whatever decision they make, we'll deal with it.''
 
The Senate may vote on the package as soon as tomorrow, sending the bill to Bush by May 20. The Bush administration prefers a one-year extension of the current law, passed in 2002. The law expired Sept. 30 and has been extended five times, with the latest continuation set to end May 16.
 
Should Bush veto the bill, Congress would attempt an override before adjourning for the May 26 Memorial Day holiday, Peterson said.
 
Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer reiterated the administration's threat after the vote.
 
``The bill passed today is a farm bill in name only,'' Schafer said in a statement. ``It does not target help for farmers who really need it, and it increases the cost and size of government.''
 
After the farm bill vote, the House approved another one- week extension of current law to May 23, with Senate passage expected tonight or tomorrow.
 
The veto may overturned by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress. Based on current membership, an override would take 289 votes in the House and 67 in the Senate. The House farm bill passed in July received 231 votes, while the Senate's package received 79.
 
The bill's biggest expense is food aid, which takes up about 74 percent of the spending plan, Peterson said. Subsidies to growers of wheat, cotton and other crops would cover about 16 percent of the expense.
 
The law reduces a tax credit for blenders of ethanol into gasoline from 51 cents to 45 cents a gallon. A surge in demand for ethanol made from corn has contributed to record prices for the grain.
 
Reducing the tax credit was favored by companies such as Pilgrim's Pride Corp., the largest U.S. poultry producer, and Tyson Foods Inc., the world's biggest meatpacker, which say subsidies for crop-based fuels push up the price of corn used primarily to feed livestock.
 
The bill also extends a 54-cent-a-gallon tariff on imports of biofuels until 2012, including sugar-based ethanol from Brazil. Government support for the ethanol industry has generated opposition from lawmakers who blame the fuel for food inflation.


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