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VIEWPOINT: Farm bill benefits N.D., nation

WASHINGTON -- Cheers roared all across the state this week. In a stunning win for North Dakota, we passed the farm bill by big bipartisan margins in the House and Senate.

WASHINGTON -- Cheers roared all across the state this week. In a stunning win for North Dakota, we passed the farm bill by big bipartisan margins in the House and Senate.

Regrettably, it appears certain President Bush will veto the bill, setting the stage for the second veto override of his presidency.

The Constitution makes it plenty hard for Congress to overturn the president when he puts his veto stamp on a bill, but this time we are determined to make this farm bill law, and we believe we have the override votes to do it.

Achieving this level of support in Congress wasn't easy. Facing unrelenting attacks carried daily in the national media, the members of the conference committee knew we had our work cut out for us. But ultimately, this support boils down to two reasons.

First, it is truly a bipartisan bill that drew the support of an overwhelming number of Democrats and a majority of Republicans. On the House side, I commend Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and the chairman of the agriculture committee, for his sincere and tireless efforts to make certain bipartisan collaboration -- not politics as usual -- created this farm bill.

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And on the Senate side, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., played an important role in keeping the process fully fair and bipartisan throughout the Senate's action on the bill. As a member of the farm bill negotiating team representing the Ways and Means Committee, I know for a fact that by ignoring partisan lines and pulling together, we built a stronger farm bill.

Second, the bill addresses the two biggest issues impacting food security in our country: the runaway costs of farming threatening our family farmers and the rising cost of groceries that is especially painful for low and modest income families.

Unfortunately, a farm bill alone can't make the high costs of farming go away, but it can provide a better safety net for our farmers so they won't be wiped out by a single crop failure. We commit $3.8 billion to a pre-funded disaster program so farmers know help will be there when they need it. And we preserve crop insurance and raise loan rates -- important provisions which share a portion of the farmers' extraordinary risk.

We also substantially increase funding for food stamps and food pantries, helping relieve some of the bite of rising grocery costs for those who can't afford them.

I believe no one should go hungry in a country as strong and compassionate as ours, and this farm bill makes a significant commitment to our country's nutrition needs.

We have built a Farm Bill that is good for North Dakota and good for the nation. Farmers and consumers alike will benefit from this bill, and it is fully paid for without raising taxes -- meaning it doesn't deepen the deficit.

I hope the president will look at the overwhelming, bipartisan support for this bill in Congress and let it become law without a veto. If not, we will override the veto, and this farm bill -- which ensures that our country will continue to have the most abundant, affordable and secure food supply in the world -- will finally be enacted.

Pomeroy, a Democrat, represents North Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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