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Senate passes Farm Bill

February 14, 2002|By JENNIFER SARANOW, Special to this newspaper

WASHINGTON (MNS) — The Senate passed its Farm Bill Wednesday by a vote of 58 to 40 that included language allowing Imperial Valley farmers to process sugar cane into sugar, a legislative victory that a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said will help fuel the economy of Southern California.

‘‘It will help create more jobs in California because more businesses in the Central Valley and in southern parts of the state will be able to grow and refine sugar cane whereas before they weren't allowed to,'' said Jim Hock, Feinstein's spokesman.

Both Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., voted in favor of the bill, as did senators from other major sugar cane-producing states such as Louisiana, Florida and Hawaii. Both senators from Texas, which has a sugar cane industry, voted against the bill.

As the bill originally was written, only sugar cane producers in states that already grew cane for sugar could enter the market. The new language provided that other states, including California, may grow and process cane for sugar, Hock said.

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Feinstein and other members of the California delegation sent a petition to Sen. John Breaux, D-La., last week asking for the modification.

Before the bill is sent to the president, the differences between it and a House bill passed in October must be worked out by members of both houses. A spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter said he is confident the language will survive the negotiation.

The spokesman, Mike Harrison, also said some House members oppose providing subsidies to the sugar industry, but he said he doubts there will be any opposition to the measure.

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