WASHINGTON — President Bush yesterday vetoed the 2007 Farm Bill, describing it as bloated with federal subsidies for wealthy commodity crop growers. “At a time when net farm income is projected to increase by more than $28 billion in one year, the American taxpayer should not be forced to subsidize that group of farmers who have adjusted gross incomes of up to $1.5 million,” Bush said in the message. "When commodity prices are at record highs, it is irresponsible to increase government subsidy rates for 15 crops, subsidize additional crops, and provide payments that further distort markets. Instead of better targeting farm programs, this bill eliminates the existing payment limit on marketing loan subsidies.” Congress is expected to override the veto, perhaps as early as this week. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bill last week with a 318-106 vote, and the Senate followed by approving the bill 81-15, in both cases garnering sufficient majorities to override a presidential veto. Although several industry associations, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, have echoed Bush’s criticisms of the crop subsidy systems in the current bill, other, less controversial aspects of this bill will benefit the industry. Notably, the Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association have been pleased with the progress of the bill, which expands the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s fruit and vegetable snack program for schools, and significantly relaxes country of origin labeling requirements, set to go into effect on Sept. 20.
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