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A House Committee begins debate on articles of impeachment; Washington state is set to launch a paid family, medical leave program; advocates for refugees say disinformation clouds their case; and a new barrier to abortion in Kentucky.

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Today’s the deadline to qualify for this month’s debate, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang made it - the only non-white candidate who’ll be on stage. Plus, former Secretary Julián Castro questions the order of primary contests.

Senate Gives Farm Bill a “Thumbs Up”

December 17, 2007

Jamestown, ND - The long-debated 2007 Farm Bill sailed through the U.S. Senate on calmer, bipartisan waters on Friday, overwhelmingly approved by a vote of 79 to 14.

Robert Carlson, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union, feels the bill contains a lot of "good news" for farmers. He's especially pleased about the addition of disaster relief, a strong safety net for farmers when prices fall, and reforms to help North Dakotan meat producers sell their products in other states.

Carlson says the permament disaster-relief provision would help North Dakota farmers get through floods, droughts and other natural calamities. He adds the state also will benefit from a breakthrough change allowing meat that's processed at small, state-inspected meat plants to be sold in interstate commerce.

"Our smaller butcher shops will be able to sell meat, not just in North Dakota, but outside of North Dakota."

Carlson points out that the Senate's 79-to-14 vote was impressive.

"That really sends a message to the President, too, who has been talking about vetoing this. That is a veto-proof vote."

While the Farmer's Union and many family farmers were disappointed about the defeat of the Dorgan-Grassley Amendment that would have capped farm subsidy payments to mega-farms, Carlson stresses that the bill still contains bright spots. He cites new country-of-origin labeling for meats, fruits and vegetables; funding for the Conservation Security Program; and what he calls "the strongest livestock reforms ever passed" in a farm bill.

After Congress reconvenes on January 21, the Senate version goes to a conference committee where a bill agreeable to both Houses of Congress will be crafted. The U.S. House passed its version of the farm bill (HR 2419) earlier this fall.

Dick Layman/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ND