Historic Farm Legislation Passes

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WASHINGTON, D. C.: On a 270-155 vote, the House Thursday passed its version of the "Freedom to Farm" bill, a major piece of agriculture legislation with the potential to roll back crop-subsidy programs born in the Great Depression. House leaders had limited the number of amendments to speed passage, but TIME's Karen Tumulty reports from Washington that the House bill is so different from the version passed February 7 by the Senate that the conference committee could spend many weeks hammering out the details. In an effort to work out one difference in advance, House members killed legislation that would have greatly benefited dairy farmers by requiring that milk be thickened with dairy solids. The bill would wean wheat, corn and cotton farmers off the current system of crop supports by replacing it with a seven-year program of declining, fixed payments. Subsidies of peanuts and sugar remain in place, to the chagrin of some members on both sides of the aisle. "If the bill were to play out as advertised, it would fundamentally change farm programs," Tumulty says. "The problem is that in the first two years, some of the farmers are actually paid more." Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman has said he will recommend that President Clinton veto the bill, in part for that reason.