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September 2005

U.S. Farm Policy Update

Welcome to American Farmland Trust's U.S. Farm Policy Update. This bi-weekly publication will feature news articles, research papers, policy reports, farmer profiles and other information related to U.S. farm policy. We hope you will use this information to join AFT in its campaign to promote a new farm policy that would strengthen American agriculture and target more of future farm support to conservation incentives.
- Ralph Grossi, president

2007 Farm Bill and the World Trade Organization
One of the forces pushing U.S. policy makers toward reform of U.S. farm policy is the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO will affect the 2007 farm bill debate, both through the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations and rulings in trade dispute cases. These two critical activities will run in parallel over the next two years, each exerting important influences on the other. The 2007 Farm Bill and the WTO Negotiations provides a comprehensive overview of how the WTO affects the 2007 farm bill debate and vice versa.

Farm Policy Experts Convene to Kick Off Reform Analysis
American Farmland Trust (AFT) convened a meeting of 26 nationally recognized farm policy researchers, academics and policy experts to help flesh out farm policy reform options and analyze potential impacts. The participants will spend this fall developing options for achieving reform that reflect AFT's vision for change within three areas: risk management, stewardship payments and transition assistance/alternative markets/trade.

A New Direction in Farm Policy” summarizes American Farmland Trust’s historic campaign to change the nation’s outdated farm policy.

Hurricane Katrina Impacts Budget Reconciliation Process
While many viewed the FY 06 reconciliation process as an indication of the willingness of Senate and House agriculture committee members to reform farm policy in 2007, it is likely that the impacts of Hurricane Katrina will prevent any large-scale shifts in policy. The thousands of hurricane victims now eligible for food stamps, coupled with an estimated $2 billion in damages to agricultural crops, has increased demand for a number of agricultural programs. The hurricane may also influence the appropriations process. With the recent passage of the FY 06 Agriculture Appropriations bill by the Senate, Congressional leaders may attempt to attach the spending legislation to a supplemental agriculture disaster assistance bill.

Government Doesn’t Subsidize Recommended Foods
The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid calls for eating more fruits and vegetables, yet most federal agriculture subsidy payments do not go to producers of these crops. “Here we are as a society, talking constantly about obesity and diets, and yet our farm policies are not structured to encourage the kind of diet that the food pyramid suggests we should adopt,” commented American Farmland Trust President Ralph Grossi in an Associated Press article. The Des Moines Register and the New York Times, call for more subsidies for fruits and vegetables or for a “retail incentive program” [archived] to encourage poor Americans to have healthier eating habits.

Farm Policy in the News

Blair CallS For End to Export Subsidies by 2010; Bush Responds With Vow to End All Subsidies: In an editorial published in Financial Times, Prime Minister Tony Blair called for reform of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy in order to lift the developing world out of poverty. In response, President Bush, at a speech to the United Nations, stated, “The United States is ready to eliminate all tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to free flow of goods and services as other nations do the same,” according to Reuters.

Farmers Say Subsidies Hurt Smaller Farms, Communities: An article in the Grand Island (Nebraska) Independent features farmers who fault the subsidy system for the low price of commodities and the disintegration of rural life. The Des Moines Register reports on a study by the Iowa Farm Bureau that finds that cutting all subsidies for corn would raise corn prices and boost farm income.

Fruit and Vegetable Farmers Want Increased Assistance: An article in the Capital Press Agriculture Weekly says specialty crop producers want greater government assistance to enable them to compete with imports from Australia and China and help Americans meet the nutrition advice advocated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Johanns Creates New Environmental Stewardship Council: In a speech emphasizing the importance of conservation posted on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Web site, Agriculture Secretary Johanns announced the creation of a “Market-Based Environmental Stewardship Coordination Council” that will “…help to ensure that we produce a sound market-based approach to ecosystem services.”

USDA Farm Bill Listening Sessions Added: Attend one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s farm bill listening sessions and tell Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns what you would like to see in the 2007 farm bill. New sessions have been added in many states.

 


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