WASHINGTON — Arkansas Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman said Tuesday that they would vote against a $969 billion farm bill expected to clear the Senate later this week.

WASHINGTON — Arkansas Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman said Tuesday that they would vote against a $969 billion farm bill expected to clear the Senate later this week.

“Unless something drastically changes, I probably can’t support it,” said Boozman, a Republican, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“I can’t vote for the bill with the rice provision as is,” said Pryor, a Democrat.

The nearly 1,000-page bill that would establish federal farm policy for the next five years makes dramatic changes to the financial safety net erected to protect farmers from losses.

Southern rice and peanut growers do not believe they are treated fairly under the newly proposed system that would send more resources to Midwest farmers. Pryor and Boozman had hoped to resolve the issue in the Senate but no accord could be reached. They believe an agreement can be struck during negotiations with the House.

The two lawmakers said that Senate colleagues were resistant to the idea of carving out different deals for specific commodities.

“We opted not to introduce anything now and work in conference with our friends on the house side that are a lot more amendable to changing the commodities title,” Boozman said.

In the meantime, the Senate launched a vote-a-thon Tuesday afternoon on 73 of the 283 amendments that were filed to the bill. They are expected to hold a final vote on the bill later this week – sending the issue to the House.

While disappointed with the rice and peanut provisions, Boozman and Pryor stressed the importance of getting the farm bill reauthorized before the current bill expires at the end of September.

“I do support the process,” Pryor said.

“We all want a farm bill at the end of the day,” Boozman said.

Senate leaders had struggled for more than a week on an agreement over how to limit debate on the massive bill. They reached a deal late Monday night to allow votes on 73 amendments.

An amendment on the rice and peanut issue was withheld at the request of southern Senators. With passage uncertain, Boozman said they did not want to weaken their efforts to resolve the issue in later negotiations with the House.

The House Agriculture Committee has yet to draft its version of the farm bill. Boozman and Pryor expect the House bill to be more favorable to rice and peanut growers than the Senate.

The farm bill, which also provides nearly $80 billion a year for the federal food stamp program, touches every state. Its broad impact was clearly evident by the 283 amendments whose sponsors and cosponsors covered every state.

Two amendments sponsored by Boozman were included in the leadership deal he had offered eight amendments and cosponsored nine others. Pryor had offered four amendments but none of those are moving forward.

The farm bill itself included two issues that Pryor had pushed.

Some wood products would be added to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s list of “biobased products” that are considered eco-friendly. And, USDA inspection of catfish would include Asian varieties. The 2008 farm bill required USDA to inspect catfish rather than the Food and Drug Administration.

The Senate, however, by voice vote, agreed to an amendment offered by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to leave catfish inspection to the Food and Drug Administration.

Pryor argued against the amendment saying that imported Asian catfish should be inspected to insure they are safe to eat.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., argued for the amendment saying a separate fish inspection program for catfish is duplicative and a waste of taxpayer money.

The Senate will consider a Boozman amendment that would make $1 million available to the National Agricultural Library to partner with agricultural universities to encourage research into agriculture law.

The second Boozman amendment would do away with bonus payments to the Emergency Food Assistance Program that states receive for having low improper payment rates.

Boozman said that states should not need a bonus to run a program properly. Instead, he would send the bonus money to local food bank programs to purchase more commodities.