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Farm Policy Update May 2, 2007

Mounting Support for Revenue Protection

The buzz surrounding revenue protection is turning into a groundswell of support. The nation’s largest farm organization, American Farm Bureau Federation, is the latest group to add their support for a revenue-based approach that protects farmers against both low prices and low yields—providing payments when they are needed most. In testimony to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, fourth-generation farmer Bill Flory asserted, "Farm bills should really be about the next five years, the next ten years and the next generation, not the next planting season." He stated that AFT's Integrated Farm Revenue Program (IFRP) is the solution for providing a real safety net for farmers against market-wide drops in price and localized risks such as droughts or floods.

AFT's Farmcast

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Our new podcast series, "Farmcast," will frequently bring you Capitol Hill insights and insider attitudes on a new farm policy. Look for us 'on the street' in D.C. and across the nation. This week, we're "Calling on Congress To Fund Conservation." Listen to comments from AFT President Ralph Grossi and others, including representatives from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and Pheasants Forever, who appeared before Congress and spoke about the importance of funding conservation programs in the 2007 Farm Bill.

A Step Forward for Conservation

House and Senate conferees on the Supplemental Appropriations Bill agreed last week to lift the cap on Conservation Security Program funding for 2007—a good first step as we look toward expanded conservation in the 2007 Farm Bill. With society increasingly recognizing the value of environmental services provided by farmers, ranchers and private forest owners, farm policy can improve land stewardship while rewarding farmers and ranchers for the public benefits they provide, such as cleaner water, habitat for native wildlife, open space and sequestration of greenhouse gases. The supplemental Appropriations Bill is expected to go before the White House later this week   and while the White House is expected to veto this bill- as a result of Iraqi war related issues- some provisions are likely to reappear once this bill is taken back up this month after the veto.  

What Is a Marker Bill?

A marker bill is a legislative bill that is used to introduce specific measures or issues into a larger legislative debate. While not intended to ever come to a vote on the floor, a marker bill is proposed as a “placeholder” for specific aspects of a larger bill. This allows legislators to include key provisions into the larger farm bill debate while it is still at the committee and subcommittee level. The more sponsors and cosponsors that sign on to a marker bill, the greater the legislative support for the specific measures that the marker bill represents, and the greater the chance that the specific measures will make their way into the larger farm bill.

Media Update

Out with Unhealthy, in with Healthy

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Harkin says in the Brownfield Network that the science-based approach used by the Institute of Medicine's recent school food recommendations—including an increase in in fruits and vegetables—is what's needed.

Ending an Addiction
The Sacramento Bee opines that the "biggest prize" in the 2007 Farm Bill would be the phasing out of farm subsidies. 

You Are What You Grow
Michael Pollan comments in the New York Times that "...the eaters of America are going to demand a place at the table, and we will have the political debate over food policy we need and deserve. This could prove to be that year: the year when the farm bill became a food bill, and the eaters at last had their say."

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