Many in farm country remain concerned over the financial environment. The single biggest force affecting the economic climate of Rural America remains the federal government. And, it is the farm bill that will define much of the government's role.
A few weeks ago it was expected the democrat led senate would produce a farm bill in sharp contrast to the generous House version. It was expected the Senate measure would direct more government dollars to conservation programs, but dramatically limit the amount of government subsidies to individual farmers and cost much less than the House legislation.
But the measure that ultimately lumbered from the senate committee carried as large a price tag as the house proposal. The Senate proposal now promises to raise support prices for grains and cotton, double spending on land and water stewardship and would automatically release supplemental subsidies to grain, cotton and soybean farmers when returns from sales and subsidies were below targets.
The White House, already facing budget deficits, opposes the Senate's version, and for that matter the House measure as well. And the administrations friends in that body cautioned members the public is now becoming acutely aware of the structure and cost of farm subsidies.
17:30:04 Richard Lugar: "Eight percent of the farmers of this country, identified as having commercial farms, single digit eight, receive 47 percent of all the of the payments. Very concentrated sort of payment schedule."
But defenders of the Senate legislation insist times are tough in farm country and more money not less is needed to sustain producers.
01:47:00 Kent Conrad: "The prices that they pay to produce those commodities continue to increase, especially with the energy run-ups experienced this year. The result is an enormous gap between the prices that farmers are paid and what they pay to produce these commodities. Again we've got the lowest prices in real terms in 50 years."