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Farm Policy Update August 30, 2007

Policy Working for Farmers: Better Protection from Drought and Flood 

Many farmers are facing yield losses this summer from droughts and floods. Unfortunately, their revenue loss won't be covered by current subsidy programs that only protect against price. However, new legislation proposed by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will give better protection to producers at no additional cost to taxpayers. Recent analysis forecasts more protection and lower crop insurance premiums for corn, soybean, and wheat farmers than provided by current counter-cyclical subsidy programs.

So why is this so great for farmers? Because this budget-neutral revenue program adjusts to changing market conditions and protects against widespread natural disasters to provide a more secure safety net for farmers?especially in trying weather times like these. Furthermore, because of efficiencies gained through integration with federal crop insurance programs, the cost of crop insurance for individual producers is expected to decrease. Still need convincing? Listen to what wheat farmer and former National Association of Wheat Growers President Bill Flory has to say on this new revenue program.

As Drought Spreads, So Does the Need for a Better Safety Net

Visit the U.S. Drought Monitor for and interactive map of current drought conditions in your area.

What's the Deal with Subsidies?

Commodity subsidies are government payments to producers of certain crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice. So why should you, a non-farmer, care? Existing programs waste taxpayer dollars and don?t work well. Not to mention, current programs can damage our environment and hurt farmers in developing countries. These programs are supposed to provide a financial safety net for producers, but the holes in the current net leave farmers high and dry in the face of droughts. Current programs can also encourage production on marginal land requiring more fertilizer and pesticides, generate distortions to the world market that hurt farmers abroad, and squeeze funding for other priorities?but there is a solution.

The ?Farm Safety Net Improvement Act of 2007" (S.1872) will fix the holes in the safety net and reduce market and trade distortions to help the environment and international farmers. This bill will also reduce the need for disaster assistance, freeing up those funds for other priorities, like healthy diets and conservation. Bottom line: this bill fundamentally transforms subsidy programs and is better for producers, the environment, and you, the taxpayer.

No Farms, No Food stamp
'Stamp' your friends and pass along the message that now is the time to act for better farm and food policy.

The Final Stretch

Next week, Congress is back in session and it?s back to business with the farm bill. As we approach the final stretch, your efforts to raise awareness in your community about the importance of the farm bill are twice as important. The more voices we can add to call on Congress to fund our priorities, the better our chances for a balanced farm bill that reflects the needs of all Americans. Use our blogging images and messages to spread the word on the web, and get ready for more action alerts starting in September once the Senate begins their mark-ups.   

Senate Farm Bill: Will There Be Enough Money to Go Around?

The farm bill passed by the House earlier this summer provided $13 billion dollars in new funding for conservation, food stamps, energy, and fruits and vegetables. However, leading Senators have already ruled out the possibility of using the sources the House used to come up with additional funding for the Senate version of the farm bill. Further, current speculation is that over half of any new funding will go to more money for subsidy programs leaving critical public needs like conservation, renewable energy and healthy foods unmet. We must ensure that there is additional money for national priorities.

Media Update

Farmer Says Current Safety Net Doesn?t Work?Here?s An Idea That Does
Illinois farmer Leon Corzine notes that farmers? risk per acre is on the rise, and the new revenue based safety net plan proposed by Senators Brown and Durbin (S. 1872) would protect farmers when they need it the most, unlike the current system. Hear what this former National Corn Growers President has to say, or read his story in Dakota Farmer.

A Better Deal?All the Way Around
Veteran farm bill journalist Jim Wiesemeyer takes an in-depth look at the Durbin-Brown Farm Safety Net Improvement Act (S. 1872) in his AgWeb.com column, Inside Washington Today. After evaluating the facts and figures and effects on different commodities, Wiesemeyer asks, ?Why aren?t wheat and soybean growers supporting this option too??

AFT President Says It Is Time for a Farm Bill for the Future
AFT President Ralph Grossi gave a keynote address at the Agricultural Media Summit, giving nearly 500 international ag journalists and communicators ideas on what the 2007 farm bill should look like to better server farmers and the public in the 21st century.

Farmers Fear the Effects of Federal Crackdown
Recent articles shed light on the immigration debate and the needs of the agricultural sector for legal laborers. Southwest Farm Press interviews producers who fear the economic impact of potential penalties if their workers? papers turn out to be invalid.

More Conservation Funding Released
The USDA has made over $35 million more dollars available for the Conservation Security Program (CSP) to complete payments on FY 2007 contracts and prepare for future sign-ups to the program. In addition, farmers and ranchers in 18 states have become eligible for Emergency Conservation Program funding because of natural disasters or drought.

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