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November 2005

U.S. Farm Policy Update

The Environment Has Never Faced Greater Political Peril
In a new book, "Cities in the Wilderness," former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit says that the environment has never faced greater political peril. He asserts that the public, in time, will again call on the federal government to play a greater role in protecting natural resources. Babbit has been on a national speaking tour, including a stop at the Land Trust Alliance rally, where American Farmland Trust presented two sessions: "Opportunities for Conservation in the 2007 Farm Bill" and "Toward Stewardship Responsibility."

WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong Dominates the Headlines
World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meetings are scheduled for December 13-18 in Hong Kong. Two official websites—the U.S. Trade Representative and the WTO—can be counted on for straight information in the days leading up to the talks, when many countries and organizations will predict the outcome of the meetings. American Farmland Trust President Ralph Grossi cautions, "No matter what the current rhetoric is about the talks, it’s important to recognize that U.S. commitments to the WTO are an important force in shaping the discussion and future of U.S. farm policy."

Green Payments Programs Reward Farm Stewardship
Jim CrawfordFor farmer Jim Crawford, who raises more than 40 different kinds of vegetables in Pennsylvania, a well-structured "green payments" program, with priorities set at the county level, could allow him to make basic improvements in the quality of his farm. "We have a million things we’d like to do," Crawford says. "Creating a healthy, naturally balanced environment is good for us and our productivity and profitability. And we think it’s the right thing."

AFT Introduces New Series of National Farm Policy Forums
A generous grant to AFT from the William and Flora Hewlitt Foundation will allow American Farmland Trust to convene a series of three national forums on U.S. agricultural policy and the 2007 Farm Bill. Held in conjunction with Stanford and Yale universities, the forums will respond to the domestic and international forces influencing U.S. farm policy. Participants will be able to better understand issues concerning conservation and farm programs and recommend policy actions.

Changes in the Distribution of Federal Spending on Farm Programs
Fiscal Years 1974-2005
FY 1974-1995
FY 1996-2002
FY 2003-2005
Source: Budgets of the US Government, Fiscal Years 1962-2006
Adapted from Farm Spending: A Historical Perspective by Carl Zulauf

Grossi a Headline Speaker at Center for American Progress Conference
American Farmland Trust President Ralph Grossi joins keynote speaker Tom Daschle and panelists at the Center for American Progress conference, "Resources for Global Growth: Linking Agriculture, Energy and Trade for the Future." At the December 6th meeting, participants will evaluate a bold new proposal to strengthen the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture, promote global economic growth and develop safe, clean and affordable energy. For more information and conference registration, click here.

Young Farmers and the Farm Bill
The 2007 Farm Bill presents an opportunity to support young and beginning farmers with policies that encourage entrepreneurship and assist farmers in developing new markets. Two young farmers, Scott Hill and Brett Nunnekamp, exemplify the future of American agriculture. Both have started their own successful farming endeavors and won awards at the 78th National Future Farmers of America Convention.

Farm Policy in the News
Economist Says Farm Supports Not Threatened, Rather Could Be Transformed: James Novak, an agricultural economist at Auburn University, seems to be a lone voice in the wilderness in a recent Southeast Farm Press article, where he states that farm support payments are not threatened despite the WTO negotiations. On the other hand, he believes that "U.S. cotton export subsidies are done for," and the government could offset farm income losses with payments that reward farmers for adopting sound conservation practices. AFT couldn’t agree more that the time is right to transform U.S. farm policy.

EU Sugar Proposal Could Sweeten the Outcome of Hong Kong Ministerial: Despite recent gloomy predictions about the outcome of the Hong Kong WTO ministerial meeting, the outcome looks sweeter now that the European Union farm ministers have offered to cut their sugar subsidy program by 36 percent over the next four years to be in line with world trade rules. British-based FoodQualitynews.com outlines the high cost of food and sugar subsidies to European consumers in "Death by Food Support."

 


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