Reid for, Ensign against farm bill
RENO – Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., hailed passage of the farm bill Thursday, saying it will provide many important benefits to people throughout Nevada. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said he voted against it partly because it expands subsidies to wealthy farmers.
Reid said the $290 billion bill that passed the Senate on a 81-15 vote will provide more than $1 billion over the next decade to help low-income families put food on the table. He said $110 million will be directed to provide help through food banks and soup kitchens struggling with rising food costs.
It also spends $175 million to acquire water to restore the Walker River Basin and three desert lakes – Walker Lake, Summit Lake and Pyramid Lake.
“We’re providing immediate help and solutions to many areas of Nevada in this legislation,” said Reid, the Senate majority leader and one of 44 Democrats to support the bill. Only two Democrats voted against it.
“Unfortunately, the president is threatening to veto this good bill that would help feed needy Nevadans throughout our state who are struggling to make ends meet. I urge him to set aside his threats and sign this legislation that would bring assistance to so many,” he said.
The House also approved the measure and sent it to President Bush on Thursday.
About two-thirds of the bill would pay for domestic nutrition programs such as food stamps and emergency food aid for the needy. An additional $40 billion is for farm subsidies, while almost $30 billion would go to farmers to idle their land and to other environmental programs.
Ensign was among 13 Republicans who voted against the bill.
“It spends too much money, increases the deficit and expands government subsidies, many going to wealthy farmers,” Ensign said.
“Families across the country are feeling a pinch at the grocery store checkout line, which is why I’m disappointed with today’s vote,” he said.
“With crop prices climbing, I find it both alarming and business-as-usual that Congress voted to continue and even expand subsidies to the same farmers experiencing these record crop prices,” Ensign said.
“The bottom line is that this farm bill produces nothing but more government reliance at the expense of the American taxpayer.”
Reid said an important new provision for ranchers allows private landowners to apply to receive cost-share assistance for conservation work on rangeland vulnerable to or affected by wildfire.