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Most of Wisconsin House delegation says no to farm bill

Five of Wisconsin's eight U.S. House members voted against the new federal farm policy bill Wednesday - even though state farmers would benefit from its dairy provisions.

La Crosse Democrat U.S. Rep. Ron Kind still argued that it doesn't do enough to reduce subsidies to the wealthiest farmers, at a time when grocery prices are through the roof.

"Commodity prices are through the roof and yet we are still funneling billions of dollars to farm households making up to $2.5 million a year in profit. I challenge any member of Congress to justify these outrageous payments to their constituents who are right now struggling with the highest food and fuel costs ever," said Kind.

President Bush is threatening to veto the package for that reason, but the House passed it with more than enough votes for an override. The tally was 318-106.

U.S. Rep. David Obey, D-Wausau, said he had to swallow hard to support the five-year farm bill, but he said it will give Wisconsin farmers higher milk subsidies as part of their safety net when market prices fall below certain levels.

"I reluctantly voted for it because it is better than existing law for farmers and better than existing law for taxpayers," said Obey.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, were the only other Wisconsin members voting yes.

Kagen says it will increase funding for nutrition programs, and will help Americans eat healthier. Baldwin says it will help 38 million poorer people eat better.

"As a physician, I am pleased that it begins to move our diets away from carbohydrates and towards healthier choices such as fruits and vegetables," said Kagen.

The farm bill now goes to the Senate.