American Farmland Trust
Farm Policy Media Summary November 10, 2006

With the mid-term elections now past us, the media are gauging public interest on many different issues. These farm policy related pieces caught our eye:

Will the Farm Bill Change Course After the Elections?

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-MN) of the House Agriculture Committee have been out on the campaign trail for candidates in their respective parties, and both were asked about the implications for the farm bill if Republicans or Democrats control the House following the mid-term elections.

Harvesting Cash Series Continues

The Washington Post’s “Harvesting Cash” series continued in October with this segment called, “Aid is a Bumper Crop for Farmers—Double-Dipping When Disaster Strikes.AFT responded, noting that the series has brought transparency to the flaws plaguing U.S. farm policy, but the time has come for the public and the agriculture sector to focus on solutions to improve current programs. Read an abbreviated version of AFT’s letter to the editor, which ran adjacent to one from Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND).

Cotton-Picking Subsidies

Yet another major newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, published a scathing editorial on farm program payments. Among their arguments for a new farm bill next year: “When it is renegotiated, Bush and Congress need to kill off these subsidy programs that cost the nation billions of dollars, and much more in prestige and credibility around the world.”

Taking the Slow Track on Trade?

The Council on Foreign Relations has posted an article that cites various views on the reauthorization of trade negotiating authority and its influence on the WTO Doha Round of trade talks. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) has called the demise of the Doha Round “an unqualified disaster,” and he says, “No trade agenda will succeed if we don't address agricultural subsidies in the United States. We cannot afford to let Doha's failure become an excuse to reauthorize subsidy programs in next year's farm bill. Subsidies and quotas shift more costs to American consumers and put us at a disadvantage when negotiating trade deals.”

Where Will We Farm? Where Will We Live?

As the U.S. population just passed the 300 million mark, newspaper articles asked pointed questions about growth, sprawl and other resource issues with a direct relationship to farmland protection and farm policy. The USA Today version contains great graphics, and this Christian Science Monitor version quotes AFT’s 2006 report, “The Future is Now: Central Valley Farmland at the Tipping Point” on farmland conversion in that area.

CSP (and Conservation Programs) Don’t Get Any R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Delta Farm Press Editor Hembree Brandon got two things right in his recent article on the Conservation Security Program (CSP). “Since a House-Senate Conference Committee included the legislation in the 2002 farm law, congressional leaders and USDA have treated it like a stepchild, cutting a total of $4 billion in funding from the CSP while touting the environmental benefits of conservation programs.” AFT has called on President Bush for “nothing less than full funding at current authorized levels in the FY 2008 budget request,” for conservation programs like CSP, the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) and others.

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