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Farm Policy Update June 28, 2007

Drought

Tell Congress:
No More Farm Subsidy Distortion

Current farm subsidy programs are bad policy. They encourage overproduction on marginal lands, exclude most small-scale farmers, and waste taxpayer dollars by making excessive payments. Tell your legislators to enact an integrated farm revenue program in the 2007 Farm Bill.

 Take Action Now

 

House Subcommittee Proposes Status Quo, Sets Off Firestorm of Reform Resolve 

The House Agriculture Subcommittee strengthened the resolve of groups like AFT to move U.S. farm policy in a new direction when it proposed keeping the 2002 Farm Bill farm payments structure in place and little else—defeating proposals calling for change. “The Committee failed miserably in its responsibility to America’s farmers, ranchers and consumers," said AFT President Ralph Grossi, "they shouldn’t try to design the future of U.S. agriculture policy by looking in the rearview mirror.”

But the fight for better policies—like AFT’s integrated farm revenue proposal—is far from over. In July the full House Agriculture Committee will finalize its 2007 Farm Bill proposals, and the Senate will begin work. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) spoke familiar words: “The 2007 Farm Bill shouldn’t look into the rear-view mirror,” saying he will push to reform commodity programs by adopting a revenue-based support program and will work to cut direct payments. He seems confident the House Subcommittee’s status quo proposal will never be enacted.

Capitol Hill Briefing on Priorities

The stage has been set for the 2007 Farm Bill, and it’s time to turn priorities into programs—protecting working farms and ranches from sprawl, making local foods more available, encouraging healthy diets and ending hunger in America. To continue the momentum, AFT held a briefing on Capitol Hill to align these priorities with the priorities of Congress and Senate. Listen to AFT’s audio Farmcast: "Keeping it Brief: Conservation, Local Food & Ending Hunger."

Senate Support for key marker bills

AFT’s Steward of the Land Winners Value Long-Term Protection of their Land

Sandy and Rossie Fisher of Brookview Farm in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, received AFT’s 2007 Steward of the Land Award for demonstrating their leadership in conserving farmland and caring for the environment. The grass-fed beef and organic egg farmers placed all 480 acres of their farm into a conservation easement several years ago, which prohibits the development of their property beyond agriculture. “The conservation easement we feel is a benefit to our kids. It takes the pressure off of people always trying to buy the place for development,” says Sandy Fisher. Increased funding for the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) [PDF] could help more farmers like the Fishers protect their land for future generations.

Experts to Debate Farm Bill at July Press Club Event

In conjunction with the release of an anthology of papers, AFT and the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University will hold a seminar July 10th at the National Press Club. Experts will present their reflections on U.S. Farm Bill conservation and commodity proposals, and the current state of the 2007 Farm Bill legislation. Confirmed speakers include former Ambassador and chief USTR agricultural negotiator Allen Johnson; Charles Conner and Deputy Under Secretary of Agriculture; Robbin Johnson, Cargill (retired). For more information, contact AFT’s Ilan Gutherz.

Play It Again Doha

Almost as soon as negotiators arrived in Geneva for an informal meeting of the WTO agricultural committee, the chairman cancelled the meeting, perhaps surmising the larger WTO body didn’t have much to discuss after their talks in Potsdam, Germany collapsed too. Stay tuned for the ending, since negotiators have five weeks to craft a deal before their deadline.

Media Update

“Big Four” Governors Speak With One Voice on 2007 Farm Bill

The governors of the four most populous states—New York, Texas, California and Florida—have together called on Congress to enact six priorities [PDF] in the 2007 Farm Bill that are very similar to AFT’s Agenda 2007 recommendations. 

Harvesting Cash Series Continues—Sheds Light on Travesties of Payments

The latest installment in the Washington Post’s Pulitzer-nominated series, Harvesting Cash, looks at the fiscal and social inequalities in the current farm support system.

Cut the Farm Bill Fat

The Los Angeles Times says it’s time to end “this country’s most egregious corporate welfare” and end farm subsidy payments. While “the committee may be hoping for another five-year pork package…an unusual coalition from across the political spectrum has arisen to fight farm subsidies.” The Oklahoman echoed these sentiments saying that it's time to end wasteful subsidy programs.

Farm Bill: Feast or Famine for Connecticut?

The DeLauro-Gilchrest Farm, Nutrition, and Community Investment Act caught the attention of the Hartford Courant’s commentator Mark Winne. Winne says Connecticut has some newfound agricultural muscle in the person of U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and her marker bill, and that in current marker bills there is “an enticing menu of policy options that should please Connecticut’s long-derived palate.”

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