Friday, May 9

When parties agree, the people pay...

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports the bill. Congressional leaders plan to bring it to the House and Senate floors next week for votes that could test the depth of support for it.

The package, the product of weeks of closed-door bargaining, is stuffed with plums for key constituencies. Dairy farmers will get as much as $410 million more over 10 years to cover higher feed costs, and negotiators tucked in an annual authorization of $15 million to help "geographically disadvantaged farmers" in Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa and Puerto Rico.

The bill assures growers of basic crops such as wheat, cotton, corn and soybeans $5 billion a year in automatic payments, even if farm and food prices stay at record levels.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.) acknowledged that the payments are "very hard to explain to our urban colleagues."

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