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Attempts to resolve farm bill differences hit a snag

April 11, 2002|By MATT YOUNG

Special to this newspaper

WASHINGTON (MNS) — More than a dozen members of the House and Senate met this week to try to resolve their differences over a bill to set farm subsidy policies for the coming years but made little progress.

The House version of the bill would increase subsidies to farmers over time through countercyclical payments, which pay out more for commodities when prices are low.

The Senate version emphasizes providing higher loan rates to farmers, which would increase the minimum price for commodities when farmers use their crops as security for government loans.

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‘‘Most analysis suggests (higher loans rates) will not be beneficial to farmers,'' said Rep. Charlie Stenholm, R-Texas.

‘‘You're arguing for lower farm income and I don't understand that,'' Stenholm said to Sen. Kent Conrad, R-N.D.

But Conrad retorted that his analysis showed the Senate bill is better for farm income than the House proposal.

Both sides said they wanted to see farm prices rise in the long run, but disagreed about how to get that done.

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