House and Senate far apart on farm bill

April 14, 2008 at 7:25 PM

WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI) -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said Monday he is pursuing a U.S. farm bill for 2008, although hopes are dimming as a deadline nears, sources said.

"We're talking and everyone wants a farm bill," Baucus, D-Mont., told The Politico.

The deadline for a new bill is Friday.

House and Senate leaders have agreed on an additional $6 billion for a package that exceeds $300 billion over the next five years. But the Senate's version asks for $4 billion more in disaster aid and $2.5 billion added in for agricultural tax breaks.

One compromise proposal includes trimming back direct payments to farmers, which is the largest crop subsidy and is paid out regardless of production levels or current prices, Politico reported.

Scaling back direct payments 10 percent would save $2.5 billion over 10 years and contribute to disaster aid, the report said.

But the House and the Senate appeared far apart.

"The tax package will not be in this farm bill," House Agricultural Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has said. "It ain't going to happen, and the sooner the Senate realizes that, the better."

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