Agriculture Secretary Says Farm Bill Will Be Completed This Year


Thursday, July 5th 2007, 6:58 am
By: News On 6


AMES, Iowa (AP) _ U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said he is content with the pace of negotiations for the new farm bill, even if the bill hasn't been sorted out as quickly as some would like.

Many in Washington would like legislation completed this month, but Johanns cautioned that it might not be done until fall.

``No one is going to rush to the point of doing poor policy,'' he said Tuesday. ``If we need time, we'll take the time. A lot of work has been done on this.''

Johanns' comments came after criticism this week by some _ including Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. _ who have said the pace of negotiations might force Congress to renew the old farm bill, and possibly delay new legislation for two years because of the 2008 presidential election.

Johanns said he doesn't see that happening.

``This is the year we write the farm bill _ 2007,'' Johanns said. ``We've known that since the last farm bill was passed in 2002. ``Farmers need the certainty of the farm bill.''

Johanns' comments were made to reporters after he spoke at a town hall meeting on the farm bill in Ames, hosted by Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa.

Johanns expressed cautious optimism about a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report that showed near historic highs for corn acres planted this year.

``We are going to have a lot of acres planted into corn ... but nothing's in the bin yet,'' he said.

High yields this fall could allow farmers to replenish reserves that have been depleted by high demand for corn by the ethanol and livestock industries, he said.

Earlier in the day, Johanns and five members of Iowa's congressional delegation attended the dedication of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture center that will be used to research animal diseases, such as avian flu.

The building is the second component of a $460 million project that is expected to be completed in 2009.

``This facility will expand on more than four decades of research,'' he said. ``I can safely say we are the best in the world, right here in Ames.''

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FARMERSBURG, Iowa (AP) _ A lightning strike knocked out a generator and power to a confinement building, killing 60 hogs, officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said.

Kevin Baskins, an agency spokesman, said a storm late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning knocked out power to the building, cutting off air circulation and causing the hogs to suffocate.

The confinement is owned by Clark Wikner of Farmersburg, in northeast Iowa's Clayton County.

``Power failure at confinement facilities can be catastrophic in a relatively short period of time,'' Baskins said in a news release.