Bruce Knight, USDA under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, didn’t mince words Tuesday in criticizing the latest farm bill:
“We have GPS technology, the latest in biotechnology and chemicals that make us the most productive society in America; yet we have a farm policy based on the interventions of the New Deal.
“We have record profits and prices making the most opportune time to reform farm policy since the 1940s.
“I think this farm bill has reached the breaking point. President Bush has said he’s concerned about this farm bill such that he sees fit to veto it.
“Almost two years ago we hosted 20 listening sessions in every state of the nation. They told us that we needed a farm bill which increases market orientation, removes trade-distorting subsidies, is more WTO-compliant and provides a safety net for farmers and ranchers.
“Congress can and should do better. We are in a time of record opportunity for the farmer. The Washington Post calls it ‘an overstuffed turkey’ because it failed to significantly reduce subsidies for wealthy Americans,” Knight says.
Time will tell whether the House vote in particular will represent the two-thirds majority needed to foreshadow a potential veto override. Some speculate in particular whether House Republicans from the president’s home state will vote against him to support the farm bill.