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2-Year Freeze of Grain, Cotton Subsidies Likely : House-Senate Conferees Expected to Reject Administration's 1-Year Plan

December 07, 1985|United Press International

WASHINGTON — House and Senate farm bill conferees are likely to agree to a two-year freeze of grain and cotton subsidies, rejecting the Administration's insistence on a one-year freeze, negotiators said Friday.

House and Senate conferees have not resolved their differences, but one congressional staff official said: "We're going to have an effective two-year freeze."

A House-Senate conference, in its second day of deliberations, met publicly in a brief session to approve agricultural research provisions worked out in closed sessions.

Conferees agreed to meet in public session again Monday. However, they decided Thursday, after a two-hour meeting yielded few results, to settle differences in private to expedite a compromise with only a week left until a Dec. 13 congressional adjournment target.

"We're making an awful lot of progress," George Dunlop, staff director of the Senate Agriculture Committee, reported at the public session.

The freeze on subsidies has been a sticking point throughout long months of farm bill deliberations in the House and Senate. On the eve of the conference, budget chief James C. Miller III and Agriculture Secretary John R. Block threatened to recommend a presidential veto if the measure contains more than a one-year freeze of subsidy levels.

But staff officials said a real point of dispute centered on Senate-passed language that specifies part of the second-year subsidy be paid in government-owned commodities.

A likely deal would give the agriculture secretary the option of choosing whether to pay part of the second-year subsidy in cash or commodities.

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