ST. PETER (AP) -- It was about 8:45 p.m. Friday before Fred Miller decided to call it a day -- only because it was getting cold in his farm shop.
He was back to work early Saturday morning. The wheel bearings on his field cultivator needed to be packed with new grease and other maintenance was due on a tractor and corn planter.
Miller, who farms about 2,000 acres near St. Peter, estimated he had three weeks to get everything ready for the planting season. He's used to hard work in the spring, but he wishes Congress would have made his job easier this year by hammering out a federal farm bill.
Versions of the farm bill have been passed in the House and Senate, but the conference committee has not reached an agreement on the final version of the bill.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said Congress was running out of time to enact new farm programs that affect this year's crops.
For Miller, the sand fell through the hour glass months ago.
He started planning for this year's crop last summer. He started thinking about seed genetics in July, evaluated his decisions during harvest time and bought the seed for the 2002 crop in December. Most of the fertilizer is already down and some of the chemical spraying has been done, too.
The federal crop insurance deadlines came March 15.
Miller has invested $270,000 in this year's crops of corn and soybeans. So, while he's working long hours in his shop and around the farm, it bothers him that he's still getting mixed messages from Veneman, the House and the Senate about how crop subsidies will be issued.
"This is really sad, and it's unfortunate that we have three different views this late in the season," Miller said. "They knew this farm bill had to be renegotiated seven years ago."
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