American Farmland Trust
Farm Policy Media Summary December 13, 2006

As we approach the end of the year, media attention has been on farm policy issues facing Congress as the 109th and the “Lame Duck” sessions come to a close, and as the freshmen members make the transition to their new offices.

It’s Time to Reverse the Budget Damage

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) penned a piece for Roll Call called “‘Farm Bill’ Touches Us All; It Needs to Be Updated,” in which he notes that the 2007 Farm Bill will be the top agenda item for the Senate Agriculture Committee. Among his key points, Harkin says it’s time to “reverse the budgetary damage” caused when billions of dollars were taken away from initiatives to pay producers for conserving natural resources, and other “forward looking programs” of the 2002 Farm Bill.

The Price of Working Outside the System

The Washington Post’s Harvesting Cash series continued this week with a look at Western dairy farmer Hein Hettinga, and the legislative wrath he faced when he legally chose to operate outside his regional milk pool. “I had an awakening,” Hettinga says, “It’s not totally free enterprise in the United States.”

GAO Sounds the Alarm: Consequences for the 2007 Farm Bill?

David Walker, head of the Government Accounting Office (GAO), sounds like a revolutionary, not a CPA, according to Forbes magazine. Walker, on a bipartisan “Fiscal Wake Up Tour,” is spreading this message: “Americans and their government are living beyond their means and that fiscal fecklessness is imperiling the country’s living standards.” While The Delta Farm Press editors picked up on this message, what hasn’t been widely written about are the issues that the federal budget deficit has created and how it will affect the writing of the 2007 Farm Bill.

All the Programs in the World Without Funding Are Lost Opportunities

AFT’s Ralph Grossi led over 20 organizations in sending a message to the White House and legislators that “we can have all the conservation and farm stewardship programs in the world, but without adequate funding, they become nothing but lost opportunities for cleaner air and water, improved wildlife habitat and protected farmland and open space.”
Southwest Farm Press covers the story.

Lawmakers Say WTO Progress Could Influence Farm Bill

A bipartisan delegation of six Congressmen met with WTO Director General Pascal-Lamy regarding market access and domestic support programs, and said they are closely monitoring the Doha round of trade talks with “an eye on next year’s farm bill debate and the possible extension of the President’s Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).” Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) told reporters of the International Herald Tribune, “If there is some hope in terms of market access, I think it is going to provide some momentum as far as agriculture reforms in the United States.

Family Farms in Jeopardy

Many groups including AFT are concerned about the effects of the deepening labor crisis on the agriculture sector. AFT has called on Congress to enact the bill in recognition that family farms face viability issues without adequate legal labor sources, a perilous condition when half of our nation’s land is working farms and ranch land.

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