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Farm Policy Media Summary September 20, 2006

Voices from across the country, including producers and others, are calling for changes in the current federal commodity payment system. American Farmland Trust has proposed a new framework and direction for U.S. farm policy that includes new safety net ideas, stewardship proposals to enhance the conservation of natural resources, and expanded market opportunities for all farmers and ranchers.

First Farm Bill Legislation Launched

Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced the “Healthy Farms, Foods and Fuels Act of 2006” along with 26 co-sponsors this week, the first legislation launched before the current farm bill expires. Like AFT’s Agenda 2007, Rep. Kind’s bill calls for doubling conservation funding, providing funding to restore nearly three million acres of wetlands and protecting nearly six million acres of farmland from development. AFT’s Ralph Grossi was quoted in a Farm Futures article on the legislation, but he reminds readers in AFT’s press release that Kind’s bill “is only part of a larger, more comprehensive transformation of U.S. farm policy needed in the 2007 Farm Bill.”

Fields of Green Yield a Crop of Cash

While the federal government paid more than $1 billion to farmers in Missouri for conservation efforts between 1995 and 2004, it paid the state’s farmers more than $3.65 billion in commodity subsidies during that same period, reports the Southeast Missourian. In the article, David Reinbott, a University of Missouri agribusiness extension specialist, said that he believes the government will direct more of its subsidies toward conservation in the next farm bill.

Even Political Candidates Debate Subsidies

The third district congressional race in Nebraska has heated up over the issue of subsidies. Democratic candidate Scott Kleeb accused Republican candidate Adrian Smith of misstating the anti-farm subsidy stance of the Club for Growth, a group that has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Smith’s campaign, reports the Associated Press on KHAS-TV. The candidates are vying to replace Rep. Tom Osborne (R-NE), who did not seek reelection in order to run for governor.

Congressional Message of Frugality Not Well Received

At the recent Congressional farm bill hearing in Grand Island, N.E., Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) wasn’t speaking to a very receptive crowd, says the Lincoln Journal Star. “Hagel warned the audience that the American public is growing increasingly concerned about federal deficits and that the next farm bill needs to be adjusted accordingly.” University of Nebraska-Lincoln farm policy analyst Brad Lubben added, “We don’t want to talk about it, but the deficit issue is on the top of everybody’s mind,” commenting on whether or not the current farm bill might be extended.

Shooting the Messenger

Responding to a series of articles in the national press that have been critical of federal farm payment programs, including the Washington Post series “Harvesting Cash” and conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg’s editorial “Welfare Queens on Tractors,” the Delta Farm Press fires at the messengers in a column titled, “ Article: Press: Lambasting Subsidies, Take Look All?? all?? at look a take subsidies, lambasting ?When Press Farm>When Lambasting Subsidies, Take a Look at All.”

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