American Farmland Trust
Farm Policy Update October 27, 2006

The Deathblow to Farm Bill Extension?

The House hearing could well have been the deathblow to those groups pushing for a farm bill extension. Reason: NCGA [National Corn Growers Association] wants a major change in farm policy, wheat growers definitely do not like some of the current farm program provisions, the soybean growers want some changes, and groups outside the farm program arena—namely fruits and vegetables—want a seat at a new farm bill table. It was not a good day for those seeking the status quo.”—Veteran ag journalist Jim Wiesemeyer on the House Agriculture Committee hearing on the future direction of U.S. farm policy. As seen on 9/21/06 (by subscription). Farm and Food Policy For All

Farm and Food Policy for All—Farmers, Citizens and Communities

Farm and Food Policy for All—Farmers, Citizens and Communities [PDF] highlights AFT’s policy recommendations from Agenda 2007, the report at the center of AFT’s campaign to strengthen the future of American agriculture.

New Ideas for a Safety Net Based on Revenue

Farmers need a safety net for when disaster hits and tools to help them manage financial risk. But existing commodity programs are complex, costly and often fail to provide protection when needed. Both American Farmland Trust and the National Corn Growers Association are proposing new safety net programs based on revenue protection. The goal: to replace existing counter-cyclical (CCPs) and loan-deficiency payments (LDPs) with a safety net program that provides better protection and is more market oriented.

New Hampshire Farmer Sees the Big Picture in Farm Policy

New Hampshire farmer Gary Matteson, who grows greenhouse flowers and grazes dairy cows, does not currently qualify for federal crop programs but has suggestions for improvements in federal farm policy. For one, he hopes to see future funding for green payments, as well as increased support for rural entrepreneurship. “With programs like EQIP, farmers put money into practical things like manure storage and water management that benefit the public as a whole,” Matteson says. “It’s not practical for the farmer to do some of this on his own, because there’s no return when he sells his crop. So it’s a reasonable public expenditure to pay farmers for providing these benefits.” 

Conservation Payment Programs Graphic

Support for Change from Around the Globe

Leaders and farm policy experts from Europe, Brazil and the United States gathered in Washington, D.C., at the National Forum on U.S. Agricultural Policy and the 2007 Farm Bill to assess America’s farm programs and chart a new direction for future farm policy. Despite the diversity of the participants, there was broad consensus that U.S. farm programs must adapt to new international trade pressures and to a host of unmet domestic needs. Stay tuned for more detailed materials from the forum in coming months.

Your Mother Was Right: Eat Your Specialty Crops

Over 50 Congressional bi-partisan sponsors introduced the “EAT for a Healthy America Act” to enhance the competitiveness of the specialty crops sector and ensure an abundant and affordable supply of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and other specialty crops for all consumers. AFT endorsed the act saying, “The 2007 Farm Bill provides a unique opportunity to link sound nutritional guidelines established by the health community—which call for greater consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains—to changes in agricultural policy.” (Just like mom said.)

Media Summary

Organic Grows Up

BusinessWeek devotes its cover story to organic food, stating that “pastoral ideals are getting trampled as organic food goes mass market.” They interview Gary Hirshberg, chairman and president of Stonyfield Farm, who will speak at AFT’s National Conference on Nov. 13 to 15. As the organic sector grows at a phenomenal rate, BusinessWeek says, “It simply isn't clear that organic food production can be replicated on a mass scale. For Hirshberg… the movement is shedding its innocence. ‘Organic is growing up.’”

Is It Time to Become a Locavore?

Nationally syndicated columnist Neal Peirce argues that the E. coli spinach scare should cause consumers to look at the costs of sourcing food globally. “Becoming ‘locavores’ (people whose instinctive first choice is local foods) is a logical complement…. It is a strategy that unites healthier bodies, reduced greenhouse gases, more resilient farms and a stronger and more self-sufficient regional economy.”

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