WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Congress has forwarded to the White House a massive bill that would overhaul the nation's farm policy for the next seven years. President Clinton was expected to sign the bill into law last week.
The bill would phase out decades-old federal programs that pay farmers to limit the planting of certain crops, like wheat and corn, and also subsidize farmers when market prices are low. In their place would be a system of fixed but declining payments over the next seven years that farmers could claim no matter what they planted, regardless of market conditions.
To spur dairy exports, the measure would phase out price supports for butter and cheese over four years. It would also protect small dairy farmers, guaranteeing them a reasonable price for their milk through the continuation of a non-taxpayer funded liquid milk price stabilization program.
Harry Sullivan, senior vice president and general counsel of the Food Marketing Institute here, praised the measure but noted he was "disappointed" that efforts to lower price supports on peanuts and sugar failed. Price supports keep consumer prices higher, the industry has complained.
Thomas K. Zaucha, president and chief executive officer of the National Grocers Association, Reston, Va., said the dairy provisions "make a significant movement toward a free market. This represents a real victory for the supermarket industry, but more importantly, to the consumer."