(UPI)--Senate Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin, D-IA, admits progress toward approving a new farm bill has been slowed because of problems in obtaining cost estimates, but he says he will push to pass a bill in the near future. Such a move would go counter to the desires of the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association and the National Pork Producers Association, all of which recently wrote to Harkin asking him to hold off on a bill until spring 2002. But Harkin said he considers the bill setting federal agriculture policies for the next decade to be a priority. He also noted the American Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union want a bill now.

Harkin said he would like to have his committee start reviewing the bill next week, with approval some time in November. The House of Representatives already has approved a measure, but the Senate version is likely to differ in terms of conservation measures to be included.

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