American Farmland Trust
Farm Policy Media Summary April 18, 2006

Pay Me More for Conservation and Less for Growing Crops; Young Farmers Realistic but Optimistic; Farmer Says: Try New Approach for U.S. Farm Policy; Kansas City Star Says Chop Farm Subsidies; North of the Border, Canadian Farmers Agree

As a critical point in World Trade Organization negotiations nears in May, much of the farm policy coverage has focused on the key sticking point in ongoing talks—farm program payments in the United States and around the world. Here’s a look at what farmers and editorial boards are saying:

Pay Me More for Conservation and Less for
Growing Crops

James March, a Wisconsin farmer, says federal farm programs should pay more for conservation and less for growing crops in an Associated Press article. The article notes that comments from thousands of farmers who participated in the USDA’s farm bill listening sessions have been delivered to Secretary Johanns in preparation for an overhaul of farm programs next year. A summary of the USDA listening sessions is available at the department’s Web site. A similar article by Reuters notes that “the ‘green’ revolution in U.S. farm subsidies—the push to give land stewardship a major role in the farm program—will not come without a fight."

Young Farmers Realistic but Optimistic

For only the second time in its 14-year-old annual survey, more than 95 percent of the young farmers surveyed by American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) said they want their children to follow in their footsteps. But the survey respondents are realistic, too, with most facing the reality that they will probably have to farm with fewer government subsidies in the future. Seventy-nine percent, up from 67 percent in 2005, think farm income should come totally from domestic and international markets.

Farmer Says: Try a New Approach for U.S. Farm Policy

Echoing the ideas of many farmers who have participated in AFT’s farm policy forums, Michael Rosmann, an Iowa farmer, recently wrote to the Omaha World Herald to say “Farm policy should be designed to protect the most important assets in agricultural productionfarmers, farm workers and resources (land, water, air)—while enhancing U.S. competitiveness in global markets.” One of his suggestions is to take cost savings from reducing commodity price supports to enhance conservation and safety of resources. Read his thoughts here (link requires free registration).

Kansas City Star Says Chop Farm Subsidies

Historically a Midwest paper with stronger agricultural coverage, today’s Kansas City Star editors haven’t forgotten their agricultural economics. The paper’s recent editorial, “Chop Farm Subsidies,” outlines the need to stop “farming the government, not farming for the market” and notes that “It’s time for fundamental reform” of U.S. farm programs.

North of the Border, Canadian Farmers Agree

In a Canada One article, the Ontario, Canada, Corn Producers’ Association says grain and oilseed farmers could be ruined by U.S. farm subsidies slated to be hiked to their highest levels ever under the farm bill. Canadian farmers believe this will trigger an overall decline in market prices, forcing them to drop their [prices] to compete with their U.S. counterparts. Articles like this demonstrate that Canadian producers are moving to protect their domestic markets and are pursuing actions through trade bodies like the WTO. Read the U.S. corn industry perspective on a recent ruling to uphold a provisional duty on U.S. corn entering Canada.

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