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Farm Policy Media Summary March 8, 2007

In Washington, D.C., and around the country, work on the 2007 Farm Bill is beginning in earnest. While the administration has put forth its policy proposals to Congress, the first real order of business will be determining how much money will be available for the agriculture committees to divide for farm and food programs.

Show Me the Money: It’s All About Baseline Funding

Veteran ag journalist Sara Wyant has written an understandable piece on baseline funding for agriculture [PDF]: “One of the key challenges in writing the next farm bill will be finding the money to pay for what seems to be an ever expanding 'wish list' of new programs, as well as higher funding levels for some existing programs. So far, there is no shortage of requests. The House leadership has begun a discussion with the budget committee about agriculture’s budget needs

U.S. Farm Policy Needs Reshaping

Religious groups are joining the chorus for new farm policies in 2007 as seen in this Catholic Online article: “Reauthorization of the farm bill presents an opportunity to reshape our broken agricultural policies to build a more just framework that better serves rural communities and small and moderate-size family farms in the U.S., promotes good stewardship of the land…” and more. The administration presented its proposed farm bill, with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) commenting on the recommendations: “There are some bold proposals and there are some I like. I think we’re going to have to massage it a bit, [but] it is not dead on arrival.”

The Role of U.S. Farm Policy in Conservation

AFT President Ralph Grossi was the guest on NPR’s Justice Talking, speaking on the role of U.S. farm policy in conservation and how the 2007 Farm Bill could better serve the needs of farmers, ranchers and the American public.

Environment Suffers if Doha Trade Talks Fail

While the Doha Round of WTO talks are moving along in low gear, WTO chief Pascal Lamy warned, “failure [of the Doha Round] would strengthen the hand of all those who argue that economic growth should proceed unchecked” without regard for the environment, and “trade must be made to deliver sustainable development.” The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, provided an analysis of the U.S. farm bill, the Doha Round and free trade: “Specifically, reducing the burdens of the Farm Bill would be a breakthrough in the Doha Round. The President has proposed some good, albeit small, steps for Congress to Consider, but much more should be done to achieve a sensible market-based farm policy.”

Green Policies Multi-faceted for Businesses

Foodservice giant Bon Appétit has responded to consumers' growing concern over the nation’s food production system by developing and implementing sustainable sourcing policies.  “In the absence of a farm bill that performs this function [financial support of small family farms], we are proud that our business model strengthens farm health and improves America’s food security,” it said, announcing that their annual purchases from farmers and artisans have hit $55 million annually.

Attention Readers: Farm Bill Reform Would Be Best

Two more newspapers have voiced their opinion that it is time for a new farm bill in 2007. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says, “The federal Farm Bill, due for congressional reauthorization this year, cries out for dramatic departures” and the Des Moines Register opines, “The 2007 bill, instead of relying on the past, should be about shaping a sensible future for a new era of agriculture.” AFT couldn’t agree more.

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