President Signs Extension; Congress Still Has Steep Climb

Less than a week remains to complete the Farm Bill.

President Bush signed the one-week extension of the 2002 Farm Bill that was passed by the House and Senate last week to give them more time to complete the new farm bill. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner had said Bush would only sign the extension if it appeared negotiators had made significant progress on the bill.

While there has been some movement forward on the bill, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says the progress is "incremental at best." Many of the conference committee members are expressing frustration with the process.

"You know if farmers ran their business like we're running this Farm Bill negotiation, we wouldn't have any food to eat," says Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas.

The conference committee is tentatively scheduled to meet Tuesday morning. Agriculture leadership agrees that funding remains the biggest issue and it's up to the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

"I would hope we will continue in a strong spirit of compromise," says Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "Hopefully by the time Tuesday morning rolls around here, some kind of progress has been made."

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