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Digging Into the Farm Bill

Does the Farm Bill provide pork… or necessary aid to struggling industries?

After several delays, Congress passed a version of the US Farm Bill today that will likely decide the fate of $290 billion over the next five years.

The reaction has been varied, even within political parties. Senator Gordon Smith calls it the “best ever for Oregon.” Meanwhile, President Bush has promised to veto the bill, saying it provides government pay-outs to wealthy farmers. The issue of subsidies has made for strange political bedfellows. Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer agrees with President Bush, saying “At a time when Americans are struggling to pay their mortgage, food and energy bills, we should help people who need it and not lavish resources on people who don’t.”

Along with subsidies for wealthy farmers, several projects included in the bill are being singled out as excessive spending, such as a tax break for horse owners in Kentucky. A $170 million package to support the Pacific Coast salmon-fishing industry has attracted some unflattering attention.

Are you happy with the farm bill? Should farmers receive aid at a time of record high food prices? Are these programs pork, or necessary aid to struggling industries?

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