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Farm Policy Update September 28, 2006

New Support for Farm Bill Reform

This week the National Forum on U.S. Agriculture Policy, hosted by AFT, Stanford University and Yale University, convened key agriculture and trade experts to chart a direction for transforming American farm policy; meanwhile, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released policy recommendations similar to AFT's. The National Corn Growers Association is exploring a revenue-based risk management program to replace current commodity programs, which is also similar to AFT's recommendations.

New Bill Focuses on Farmers, Consumers and the Environment

Healthy Farms, Fuels and Foods Act of 2006,” the first major agriculture bill prior to the 2007 expiration of the current farm bill, was introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) on September 13 with 28 co-sponsors. The legislation complements AFT’s Agenda 2007 by doubling conservation spending and providing funds to protect farmland. AFT ‘s president Ralph Grossi says, “This bill is a key component of a new direction and framework needed for U.S. agriculture policy that will help farmers and ranchers conserve natural resources, promote renewable energy and expand access to healthy foods.”Ralph Grossi speaks with Keith Good of FarmPolicy.com

Good and Grossi on Farm Policy

AFT president Ralph Grossi spoke with well-respected farm policy journalist Keith Good, of FarmPolicy.com, on the future of the farm bill and AFT’s vision for change. Tune in to American Farmland Trust to view the interview.

Midwest Wildlife Benefit from Farm Bill Programs

Paul Taylor, a farmer in DeKalb County, Illinois, believes that the 2002 Farm Bill made some key improvements, because it finally offered some protection for fruit and vegetable growers. Taylor raises vegetables for Del Monte in addition to corn, wheat and seed soybeans. He also appreciates the Conservation Security Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). “I was out early in a 40-acre field this year, and I saw pheasants, partridge, deer, an owl and a coyote,” he says. “I’ve never seen that much wildlife on the farm in my whole life.”

Three Former Secretaries of Agriculture Voice Support for AFT’s Agenda 2007

On September 14, 2006, former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture John R. Block (1981-1986), Clayton Yeutter (1989-1991) and Dan Glickman (1995-2001) testified and voiced their support for farm policy reform in front of the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. The secretaries made arguments against extension and pointedly discussed the need to establish a real financial safety net that mirrors the recommendations in AFT’s Agenda 2007 [PDF].

Farm Policy for the Sustainable Farm

In the past, programs designed specifically to support small- to medium-sized farms and ranches that are on the urban-edge, sustainable, organic, or direct-to-consumer all have been woefully under-funded. The 2007 Farm Bill can phase out policies that work against sustainable agriculture while investing funding in programs that promote and support innovation, stewardship, and make our food systems healthier for the long-term. New policies would help level the playing field and give small- and medium-sized farms more opportunities to access the resources they need to thrive. The Farm and Food Policy Project, a partnership of hundreds of organizations across the country, is promoting the new policies to achieve these goals.

Media Update

One Thing to Do About Food: Get Involved in the Farm Bill
A dozen prominent writers have penned opinions for The Nation’s piece titled: "One Thing to Do About Food: A Forum." Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, says, “Nothing could do more to reform America’s food system—and by doing so improve the condition of America’s environment and public health—than if the rest of us were suddenly to weigh in [on the farm bill].”

Heartland Paper Says Basic Change in Farm Policy Badly Needed
In another pointed editorial, the Lincoln Journal-Star again tips its hat to AFT’s Agenda 2007 [PDF] and goes on to say, “a deep, basic change is needed in U.S. farm policy.”

Veggie U: Ohio Farm Family Teaches Kids Healthy Eating Habits
It’s an effort that grew out of a conversation on childhood obesity rates with local chefs who were visiting their heirloom vegetable farm. Now, the Milan, Ohio, farm family is hosting one-day farm seminars and working to provide multi-week classroom kits that encourage kids to choose more vegetables in their diet through the non-profit organization
.

Alert Reader Says Irrational Rise in Ag Land Prices Fueled by Taxpayer Subsidies
An alert Des Moines Register reader wrote in response to the paper’s article on farmland property values rising again this year. “Every single Iowan is impacted by the irrationality of these land prices. Begin the debate now to end farm subsidies to all owners of farms over 200 acres. Our state and national politicians should be held accountable.”

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