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Farm Policy Update June 1, 2006

Mr. Hardin Goes to Washington

John D. Hardin Jr.’s enthusiastic support of Agenda 2007: A New Framework and Direction for U.S. Farm Policy has made him the unassuming hero in the farm bill debate. As a family farmer and the owner of Hardin Farms, a pork operation and grain farm in Indiana, Hardin has a vested interest in market-oriented farm policy change. He climbed off his tractor in the middle of planting season to travel to Washington and show his support for Agenda 2007. As a commodity crop and livestock producer, Hardin has embraced his role as a leader in the agricultural community by speaking out and serving as an example for farmers nationwide.

Rewarding Farmers and Ranchers for Environmental Stewardship

Although farmers and ranchers produce significant environmental benefits, they typically aren’t compensated for “growing green.” America Farmland Trust and many farmers, ranchers and environmentalists are now calling for a broad-based green payments program [PDF] to be the centerpiece of the next farm bill. Green payments could compensate farmers and ranchers for providing environmental benefits such as cleaner water and air, improved wildlife habitat, increased biodiversity and improved soils.  

Farm Bill Conservation Funding Chart

Farm Profitability State Grants Would Help Small Farmers

Mary and Nelson James at the Farmers MarketAt the center of AFT proposals to expand farm economic opportunities in the next farm bill is the proposed farm and ranch profitability grant program [PDF]. The proposed program would help a farmer like Mary James achieve two of her dreams: owning a processing operation and introducing local children to her farm. The proposed grant program would be administered by state officials, thereby allowing the marketing and business venture grants to flow more effectively to innovative programs and projects that improve the bottom line of farmers.

Grassley Against Extension, Peterson Says Extension Unlikely

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) has announced that he is now against extending the current farm bill, “…because it inhibits efforts for a new international trade agreement,” reports the Creston News Advertiser. Grassley added that international market access for farmers would only come from a “successful [WTO] negotiation.” He had previously said that he would support an extension of the current farm bill only if Congress agreed to extend the President’s international trade negotiating authority until 2008—a move that would help keep the current WTO talks alive. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) said in the May 8th edition of Informa Economics Policy Report (by subscription), “You can talk about [extending the farm bill], but I don’t think it is realistic to think there will be an opportunity.”

Chairman Goodlatte Wants to Hear from You

Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced the launch of a Web-based farm bill feedback form on the House Committee on Agriculture Web site, allowing producers throughout the nation to provide the committee with feedback about current farm policy as well as offer input about the future of farm policy. 

AFT's Fifteen Leading Policy Recommendations for the 2007 Farm Bill 

Media Update

Risk Management Paper Released: The same day that AFT announced Agenda 2007: A New Framework and Direction for U.S. Farm Policy, the USDA released its 2007 Farm Bill Theme Paper on Risk Management. The paper is the first in a series and results from ideas raised at USDA farm bill forums.

Miles Per Cob: The New York Times recently ran an op-ed by former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who argue that if the United States is to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, it needs to promote research, innovation and commercialization of new fuel technologies in partnership with America’s farmers. Former Senators Daschle and Bob Dole (R-KS) co-chair the 21st Century Agriculture Policy Project, which is working to reshape agriculture to help farmers produce energy crops.

Farm Policy Should Include Broader Mix of Producers: Echoing the themes that AFT heard from producers at its forums, USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said farm programs need to be broadened to provide benefits to a larger number of farmers, but not in a way that makes “wealthy farmers” even larger. Read more about his address to the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association meeting in this Delta Farm Press article.

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