(OKLAHOMA CITY) - A bill that would overhaul America's farm programs is too big and will cost too much, Sen. Don Nickles said Wednesday.
Nickles, R-Okla., was among the 28 Republicans and eight Democrats voting against the measure, which passed 64-35 in the Senate.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., voted for the measure.
``While I have some concerns about the overall cost of the bill, I believe working the up-front costs into the budget is better than doing ad-hoc emergency supplemental funding like we have done the past few years,'' Inhofe said.
``Oklahoma producers need the certainty of a federal farm policy to ensure they remain financially secure and keep rural Oklahoma viable.''
Nickles said he wants to help agriculture, but that the new farm bill ``is a huge and expensive step in the wrong direction.
``It represents further government intrusion in the marketplace. It makes it more difficult to export our agricultural products.''
Nickles said he believes the bill tips in favor of large corporate farms over small farms and will ultimately drive many people into bankruptcy.
``Instead of fixing America's broken farm policy, I'm afraid this bill just makes matters worse,'' he said.
The 1996 Freedom to Farm Act was supposed to have weaned farmers off farm subsidies, but when commodity prices plummeted in 1998 Congress responded with a series of annual bailouts of the farm economy.
The new bill continues fixed annual payments to the producers of corn, wheat, rice, cotton, soybeans and some other basic commodities.
It also establishes new government guarantees for prices of those same commodities, meaning producers will not be at the mercy of the markets.
``We are pleased the Senate has also voted in favor of the farm bill; we further encourage the president to sign the legislation in law,'' said Ray Wulf, president of the Oklahoma Farmers Union.
``The farm bill will give a much-needed boost to our grain and cotton producers in the state of Oklahoma.''