A popular loan guarantee program for farmers would be expanded under legislation approved March 24 by the House.

The legislation, which passed by a 220-to-211 vote, would create $1.1 billion in additional loan guarantees and set aside $43 million to hire temporary workers to process the guarantees.

The Agriculture Department's $1.8 billion program has been out of funds since early February, leaving 12,000 farmers waiting for guarantees, according to House Agriculture Committee estimates.

Both the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers Association support efforts to expand the loan guarantee program. President Clinton has threatened to veto the bill, because lawmakers plan to cut foreign aid to cover the cost of the expanded farm lending program.

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