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February 2006

U.S. Farm Policy Update

Grossi Headlines Session on Farm Bill
NRCS Photo by Tim McCabeAmerican Farmland Trust (AFT) President Ralph Grossi joined such notables as Sec. of Agriculture Mike Johanns, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Representatives Bob Goodlatte and Tim Holden (D-PA) in addressing the Focus on Farm Policy Conference in Iowa last week. Grossi and senior AFT staff also addressed the 2006 North American Grain Congress meeting in Texas and an AFT farm policy forum in Kansas City. From Iowa, Grossi joined AFT?s first national policy forum held in conjunction with Stanford and Yale Universities, where over 60 participants responded to domestic and global issues influencing U.S. farm policy.

Assessing the Future of Animal Agriculture
As animal agriculture undergoes fundamental change, Farm Foundation is leading a project to comprehensively assess the future of North American animal agriculture. Working with AFT and other key stakeholders, Farm Foundation is examining industry challenges and exploring economic, structural and policy alternatives facing the industry. The final project report will be released at a conference in Washington D.C. in April 2006.

Budget Proposal Confirms Changes to Farm Policy Are Inevitable
The administration recently released a $125.6 billion budget proposal for the USDA during FY 07, a $7.3 billion decrease from FY 06 levels. The proposal contains a number of policy changes to commodity programs and reduces funding for a number of critical conservation programs. In a statement released by American Farmland Trust, President Ralph Grossi noted that the president?s budget confirms what farmers, ranchers and observers have long known: ?Significant changes to American farm policy are inevitable.? However, Grossi emphasized that changes to commodity programs should be part of a larger farm policy discussion and not simply be budget cutting measures.

Crop Insurance Participation Is Highest Among Field Crops and Cotton Farms
Source: USDA Agricultural Resource Management Survey, 2002
*Includes tree nuts, berries, potatoes and melons. **Includes nursery, greenhouse and floriculture.
Source: USDA Agricultural Resource Management Survey, 2002.

Prospering in Rural America Will Take a Response to Change
?Prospering in Rural America? was the theme of USDA?s Agricultural Outlook Forum held last week. Representative Cal Dooley, now head of the Food Products Association, quoted Charles Darwin in saying, ?It is not the strongest or the most intelligent of species that survive, but the ones most responsive to change.? Dooley challenged the audience and Congressional leaders to design a new farm policy, following the lead of Australia and New Zealand who unilaterally reformed their policies and prospered economically as a result. See forum speeches and presentations here.

World Economic Forum a Model for Creating Solutions
The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an independent international organization that works to improve the state of the world by engaging leaders from 1,000 leading companies in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas. At their recent meeting in Davos, Switzerland, participants agreed to new projects in disaster relief, hunger, anti-corruption, financing for development and public-private partnerships. ?Profits and power may drive companies. But those at the WEF agreed, community keeps the best organizations humming,? says this Business Week article.

Farm Policy in the News
For Many Families, Farming Faces an Uncertain Future: A cornerstone of AFT?s farm policy project involves ensuring that the 2007 Farm Bill meets the needs of farming?s next generation. The San Francisco Chronicle highlighted the pressures that Central Valley Hmong families in California face as their children consider whether or not to continue in agriculture.

House Agriculture Committee Holds Series of Farm Bill Field Hearings: Despite recent concerns on the timing of new legislation, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has said his committee will write a new farm bill in 2007. In preparation, the committee will hold a number of field hearings in Washington, DC and around the country. Sign up for email notifications of committee hearings and view scheduled events here.


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