Farmers and the U.S. farm industry continue to watch Congress wrestle with the Federal Farm Bill as the March 15 deadline looms. If the new bill is not passed, the 2002 bill could be extended to one or two years, placing new policies in the hands of the new president and Congress.

According to online discussion groups, House and Senate leaders have met behind closed doors this week to continue funding-level discussions. Realizing they will not likely meet the March 15 deadline, they've agreed in principle for a farm bill extension until April 18. This extension may move through the Senate and House as soon as today. Meanwhile, the discussions are focused on the $10 billion over the baseline funding level mark via possible rebalancing loan rates and target prices.

Up to now, the U.S House and Senate have passed separate bills, neither of which significantly addresses subsidy cuts. Both also increase spending and paying for that increase via revenue enhancements or new taxes.

These two issues appear to be a stake in the sand for President Bush. He has stated that he will veto any farm policy bill that raises taxes or provides subsidies to farmers with annual adjusted gross income more than $200,000.

At Clary Communications, we are watching this issue closely, and we will touch base with you with weekly status reports over the next month.

Please let me know if we may be of service to you.

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