American Farmland Trust
Farm Policy Update March 8, 2007

Producers Take Message to the Hill

Twenty two producers from fourteen states descended on Capitol Hill to convey their needs in the 2007 Farm Bill to members of the House and Senate. The producers met with congressional staff to discuss several common issues: a real revenue-based safety net [PDF] for farmers to help them better manage production risks; fully funded, vigorous conservation programs [PDF] for working lands; and new market opportunities [PDF] to encourage entrepreneurial innovation and improved nutrition, food security and energy independence. Sharing experience gained in their operations along with their views on how proposals like those in AFT’s Agenda 2007 could create more effective farm and food policies was, in the words of one producer, “powerful. I had never told my story to my Congressman, and now I want to tell even more people!”

“School lunches, international trade, environmental conservation, supermarket prices, ethanol production—all of these are directly or indirectly impacted by what we call the farm bill.” - Mike Johanns, Secretary of Agriculture

Farms and Ranches Work for the Environment

With global climate change and the search for alternative energy major issues affecting America, agriculture has the potential to become a potent environmental service provider. A number of pilot programs are putting ecosystem services to the test. Although the test programs are for single benefits, farms and ranches are capable of producing multiple benefits. A farm today that sells corn and timber may evolve into a farm that also sells corn stover (residue) to a biofuels plant; wetlands credits to land developers; flood control credits to a water district; water quality credits to a water supplier; biodiversity credits to a nongovernmental organization; and carbon credits to a power company. Both USDA and the Farm Bureau acknowledge the promise of this approach, and USDA has proposed $50 million in mandatory funding to help overcome the barriers to making it happen.

24% Potential Decrease in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Take action today to support funding for farm, food and conservation programs in the 2007 Farm Bill!

Leaders Honored with AFT’s Inaugural Congressional Steward of the Land AwardsSenator Lugar with Ralph Grossi

AFT recently awarded its esteemed Congressional Steward of the Land Award to three Senators and three Congressmen. AFT honored Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), and Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) for their profound commitments to conservation and farmland protection. “It is a great honor to recognize true champions of conservation and farmland protection,” said Ralph Grossi, AFT president.

Renewable Energy a National Priority For 2007 Farm Bill

AFT agrees with the broad 25 x ’25 Alliance calling on Congressional leaders to develop policies to help the country reach an ambitious goal: provide  25 percent of the nation’s energy supply from renewable sources by 2025. The 25 x ’25 Action Plan: Charting America’s Energy Future provides a road map of recommendations for national leaders as they work to develop the energy and conservation sections of the 2007 Farm Bill -- and the report also wisely recommends the preservation of a strategic land base for the future production of food, feed, fiber and energy by increasing funding for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection (FRPP) program, and other conservation measures. 

The Commodity Classic

More than 4,000 growers will participate in marketing, production and issues seminars, discussing hot topics such as renewable energy, trade and the farm bill at this week's Commodity Classic. “AFT has been talking to farmers about the farm bill and working with them to craft plausible policy options for over two years,” says Ralph Grossi, AFT President. “It will be really exciting to hear the farm bill discussions and see what official policy positions these three commodity associations take with regard to the future of agriculture in our country.”

Media Update

Corn Growers: What They Need, What They Can Grow
Iowa corn grower and National Corn Growers Association officer Ron Litterer recently met with Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns to talk about the need for a revenue-based safety net combined with crop insurance. Such a program could eliminate the need for government disaster payments and cost the government less than current programs in the long run.

A Front Row Seat at the Farm Bill Debate
When Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns went out on the road to explain the administration’s proposed farm bill, he might have expected to see traditional commodity growers of cotton, rice and wheat in California. But the audience was packed with specialty crop growers, who produce nuts, fruits, vegetables and more.

Ties to the Land
In writing for Black History Month, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal looked at black farm ownership and loss, and the efforts of the Black Family Land Trust in South Carolina.

Future Perfect Farming?
The New York Times opines that six months ago, it was an even bet whether there would be a new farm bill in 2007, but now that’s changed. The administration’s proposed farm bill “seems remarkably promising,” writes the editorial board, and “Mr. Johanns seems to have little desire to protect entrenched subsidies and a very strong desire to improve the environment.”

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