On Wednesday, May 14, the U.S. House passed a compromise version of the “Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007,” which is more commonly known as the New Farm Bill, by a vote of 318 to 106, or a 73% “yes” vote. On Thursday, May 15, the U.S. Senate passed the new farm bill by a wide margin of 81 to 15. As is typical with Farm Bill legislation every five or so years, the supporters of the new farm bill were very bipartisan, with senators and House members looking more at the impact on their state and their own congressional district, as opposed to voting strictly along party lines. The fact that a farm bill is so encompassing, ranging from commodity to nutrition programs, from conservation to trade programs, from rural development to renewable energy programs, helps garner a wide range of support for most farm bills. This strong bipartisan support should make it easier to override a Presidential veto, if one occurs. This has been a long process for Congress to pass a new farm bill, considering that Congress has been discussing the new farm bill for nearly two years, and that the U.S. House passed its original version of the new farm bill in late July of 2007.

With the passage of a new farm bill by the U .S. House and Senate, we are a lot closer to finalizing the next farm bill than we were a few weeks ago. However, the new farm bill is likely to be vetoed by President Bush in the next few days. The Administration has raised several issues with the new farm bill relative to the increased spending levels and budget offsets, payment limits, and the proposed target price and loan rate increases for some crops, which will likely lead to a Presidential veto of the new farm bill. A veto by President Bush will move the new farm bill back to Congress, which will then need to attempt an override of the presidential veto, in order for the new farm bill to become law. To override a presidential veto on legislation passed by Congress takes a two-thirds majority in Congress, or 290 votes in the U.S. House and 67 votes in the U.S. Senate. Given the large margin of passage in both the U.S. House and Senate, it would appear that a veto override is quite likely. However, it is possible that some Republican members of Congress could switch their vote on the veto, not wanting to oppose President Bush. If the likely presidential veto is overridden by Congress, the new farm bill would become law. If the veto is not overridden, Congress would have three choices : 1) Try to “tweak” the new farm bill language enough that it will still pass Congress and be signed by President Bush; 2) Extend the current farm bill for one year or longer; 3) Allow farm programs to revert back to the 1949 permanent farm bill (which is not likely to occur).

Stay tuned --- the writing of new farm bill has been a long and grueling, highly political process, which is not over yet!

Favorable Planting Weather – Finally
What a difference a week makes …… On May 12, less than 40% of the corn, and very few soybeans were planted across Southern Minnesota. Now a week later, on May 19, about 85-90% of the corn is planted, and about one-third of the soybeans are in the ground. The week of May 12-18 provided some excellent crop planting weather conditions in most areas, allowing farm operators to make tremendous planting progress. Most crop producers were putting long hours during the week to catch up behind normal corn and soybean plan planting, which has been delayed this Spring due to continued cool, wet weather conditions. The 2008 planting season in Southern Minnesota is much later than 2007 and other recent years; however, the 2008 corn planting dates are only slightly behind the normal long-term planting dates, and soybean planting still has an opportunity to be pretty much in line with long-term averages. Daily average soil temperatures at the 2-4 in. range have finally warmed to the 55-65 degree F range, which creates ideal planting and germination conditions for newly planted corn and soybeans. Early planted corn has emerged and looks very good at this stage.

Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.