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Back from a trip to Washington to lobby senators on conservation programs in the bill, or ones that he thinks should be in the bill, Sparlin is mildly satisfied with the way the legislation is shaping up.
"I think many of our members will change their position," he said. "The people back home love this bill."
And there might be some more improvements when, Nike Sportswear Bonded Blazer
"That's what I'm really hoping for," said Sparlin, who is also coordinator for the Friends of the Minnesota Valley Watershed. "Nothing's going to be perfect."
The bill will impact 100 percent of Americans, Sparlin said. For one, the bill has a dramatic effect on nearly all of the land in the United States, which affects air and water quality.
"Probably one in 30,000 maybe," Sparlin said, taking a stab at what proportion of southern Minnesotans also were watching the discussion on C SPAN.
A farm bill with balance
"Quite honestly, you have to have the votes all across rural America to get it passed," he said. "So you have to have a balance. And this bill has a balance."
But Peterson got House approval of his bill on July 27, and the people back home gave it rave reviews. Progress in the Senate has been slower, and the Bush administration is now threatening to veto the bill an increasingly common threat as the Democratic Congress clashes with the Republican president over spending bills.
"When 92 percent of your land mass is agricultural, let's ask ourselves if agricultural practices and the farm bill will affect our environment," said Sparlin, the executive director of the Coalition for a Clean Minnesota River. ". There's a lot of complexity to (federal farm policy), and it affects every one of us."
Scott Sparlin of New Ulm knows he wasn't part of a mass audience when he sat glued to the television this week, watching the Senate debate of the new five year farm bill.
When that final approval will come is uncertain. Walz thinks it could be early Nike Hoodie Green
"Everybody thought, 'Yeah, you bet, nobody ever got that done,'" Paap said.
Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson, whose district stretches from the Canadian border all the way to Sibley County, is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and promised long ago that he'd have the House bill done by the end of July so that lawmakers could discuss the legislation with constituents during the long congressional recess in August.
The basic commodity subsidy programs have been preserved, there's a new fund set up to provide disaster payments to farmers dealing with crop failures, the conservation programs are in place. And there's even some money for fruit and vegetable farmers, Paap said.
There have Nike White Hoodie been plenty of complaints by commentators across the country about the size of the subsidy payments to some very large farms and about payments to sometimes wealthy city residents who own farm land. The bills make some adjustments in maximum incomes for those receiving subsidies, but Paap said there's a Nike Women Coat
The legislation has managed to attract broad support, according to Congressman Tim Walz, DFL Mankato. That makes him less concerned about Bush's veto threats, which administration officials have said are based on tax increases in the bill and the failure to more tightly cap subsidy payments.
after the Senate gets its bill passed, the House and Senate work out a compromise bill in a conference committee.
Folks other than major agricultural businesses seemed to have had a bit more opportunity to shape the bill, he said. And existing programs for promoting conservation of ag land, protecting streams from agricultural run off and restoring flood plains along rivers are largely continued and in some places expanded.
The House bill passed narrowly in July, but Walz predicts many Republicans who opposed it then will ultimately favor it when it returns for final approval.
Kevin Paap, a Garden City farmer and the president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, also is paying close attention to the debate as he awaits the final version of the $288 billion legislation. Paap and other farmers have been waiting for a while.
His estimate of the percentage of Americans who will be impacted by that debate and how it shapes policies relating to farming, the environment, food programs and health is an easier one to make.
Paap hopes Walz is right, both for practical and political reasons. Politically, he wants the bill done so it doesn't get caught up in the presidential election campaign. And pragmatic motivation for getting it passed is that farmers will soon be planning for next year's crop.
limit to how much the subsidies can be capped.
With Peterson overseeing the formation of the House bill and Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin chairing the Senate Ag Committee, farmers in the Upper Midwest were hopeful their interests would be protected in the legislation.
It's not realistic to expect the bill to be designed strictly for the Upper Midwest's vision of what a family farm is, Paap said. It needs to address the wide variety of farm operations across the country if it's going to get the support of a majority of lawmakers.
"I'd say between 'OK' and 'pretty good,'" he said of its overall grade.
"The farm bill is based on production. It's not based on per person," he said. "So those who produce more get more."
"That's where they're from, the Midwest," said Paap, who's pleased so far with the legislation in both houses of Congress.
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