In particular, the Texas Republican noted, the administration budget reflects the House-passed farm bill funding approach of consistent levels of support that will equal the ten-year, $73.5 billion increased commitment of funding for farm program spending above the baseline level.

The administration budget appears to reject front-loading funding in the first five years, one of the features of the Daschle-Harkin farm bill that is now pending in the Senate.

“President Bush has stood by his commitment to agriculture in his budget, and he makes clear that the next farm bill will not be shortchanged, front-loaded or mortgaged against the full ten years of funding,” Combest said. “Farmers can be assured that both the House farm bill and the administration budget call for consistent funding – whether that seed money comes in a ten-pound sack or two five-pound bags, it will be all there.

“It is my hope that this budget will expedite the passage of a new farm bill.”

Combest’s comments echoed what is becoming a rising crescendo of calls for the White House to play a bigger role in helping get the Senate on track to passing a farm bill so that the legislation can go to a conference committee to be reconciled with the House farm bill passed last October.

In recent days, a number of House members have written to the president, asking him to step up administration efforts to win passage of the farm bill so that farmers could have a better idea of the farm program for the 2002 crops.

In comments at a briefing on the proposed budget yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said USDA is working now to prepare to implement a new farm bill as soon as Congress passes the legislation and sends it to the president for his signature.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com.