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November 2005

U.S. Farm Policy Update
Media Summary

2006 Agriculture Appropriation Finalized, but Budget Reconciliation Pulled from the Floor; The Up and Down Road to the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting; Many Voices Call for Farm Bill Reform

Several themes have emerged in farm policy media coverage. While the president signed the 2006 appropriation bill for agriculture this week, the budget reconciliation was pulled from the House floor for lack of support. If you are following news related to the upcoming WTO talks in Hong Kong—you might feel like you are on an amusement park ride, with most countries in the typical posturing before such meetings. Most notably, major newspapers and organizations are calling for a major reform of the 2007 Farm Bill.

2006 Agriculture Appropriation Finalized While Budget Reconciliation Bill Pulled from the House Floor
As summarized by the Brownfield Network, the president signed the 2006 federal budget appropriation for agriculture this week, while the reconciliation bill, that proposed drastic cuts to already under-funded conservation programs was pulled from the House floor following Election Day, for lack of support. In what may signal a change in direction for the 2007 Farm Bill, Western Growers announced that specialty crop interests did see block grants included in the 2006 appropriation. A measure proposed by Senators Grassley (R-IA) and Dorgan (D-ND) that would have put a $250,000 cap on commodity support payments also failed, as detailed at Agriculture.com.

The Up and Down Road to the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial Meeting
In what is very typical posturing by various countries and parties leading up to the December WTO Ministerial meeting in Hong Kong, it seems like it’s on-again, off-again depending on the time of day and which news outlet you read. As President Bush makes a trip this week to Asia, Asian nations are blaming the European Union (EU) for the apparent deadlock that has ensued since the United States made a proposal to cut its commodity support payments. While European Union leaders vacillate on how much more they are willing to cut, Bloomberg News reports that France is again thwarting reforms by threatening to veto any agreement that comes out of the December WTO talks, while developing countries are pushing the EU for even greater reforms. The International Food Policy Research Institute cautioned world leaders that they must avoid a hollow outcome.

Diverse Voices Join the Clamor for Farm Bill Reform
Led by American Farmland Trust President Ralph Grossi, who was interviewed by Interlochen Public Radio on the need for farm bill reform and increased conservation efforts, a diverse group of newspaper editors, organizations and the public are joining the call for a major change in U.S. farm policy. Major California newspapers like the San Mateo County Times decried Senators Boxer (D-CA) and Feinstein (D-CA) for lack of leadership in voting against farm payment limitations. While President Bush is calling for change particularly on the WTO front, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns has been putting out the word through the National Association of Farm Broadcasters that the 2007 Farm Bill will be different than in the past. The CATO Institute, a Washington, DC think-tank, published a paper detailing six reasons why the time is ripe for farm policy reform.

 


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