US House passes subsidy-heavy farm bill

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2008 (AFP) – The US House of Representatives Wednesday passed a mammoth 290 billion dollar farm bill with a veto-proof majority, which includes subsidies for farmers and help with food bills for the needy. The 100-seat Senate was likely to pick up the bill as early as Wednesday night, where sponsors also hoped for a two-thirds majority, to ward off President George W. Bush’s threat of a veto.

Bush and some Republican congressional leaders say the bill, passed by 318 votes to 106 in the House, is loaded with subsidies for the agriculture lobby and is too expensive.

As grocery prices rise, the bill also includes an eight billion dollar expansion of the food stamp program which helps needy people get more nutrition into their diets.

House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson said last week that the bill would ensure “that all Americans have access to a safe, secure and inexpensive food supply and provides a safety net for farmers and ranchers.”‘

The farm bill also includes provisions to expand biofuels research and development programs.

“With energy prices at record levels, we need to find better ways to quickly and cheaply produce biofuels from diverse feedstocks,” said Dem