|Washington, DC, February 2 , 2007—“It’s all about the number six on Groundhog Day,” says Ralph Grossi, President of American Farmland Trust. Today, American agriculture would be remiss if it didn’t call on the Congressional leadership to prevent six more years of unmet needs for American agriculture and the American public.
As deliberations for the 2007 Farm Bill begin, a broad array of agriculture and conservation groups requests that Congress provide additional budget authority for the next farm bill. “Resources are needed for a stronger agricultural sector that better serves the public. The 2007 Farm Bill can provide a better safety net for our farmers and ranchers, expand the production of renewable energy, protect our farmland and natural resources, and make sure no American is without access to healthy food,” adds Grossi. In their Groundhog Day letter to the Senate and House leadership, the group calls on the Budget Committee to provide budget authority at levels above the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline, due to be released in March.
“It’s a critical time for a farm bill to reflect the rapidly changing nature of agriculture and increase the efficiency of how the taxpayers investment is spent to support agriculture,” says Grossi. “While the Budget Committee does not write the farm bill it does help shape the debate and help determine how much money there is to address critical national priorities.”
The group, led by American Farmland Trust, outlines seven strategic areas that deserve additional budget authority:
- Provide risk management tools, boost the market orientation of farm programs and provide a real safety net for agriculture;
- Assist the specialty crop sector through increased consumption of fresh produce, and ensure resources to address destructive crop diseases and pests;
- Ensure that future generations will benefit from significant improvements to the environment and working lands by fully funding conservation and farmland protection efforts;
- Invest in renewable energy development on farms and ranches to increase energy security and improve the environment;
- Provide adequate resources and program changes to meet the needs of over 35 million Americans who face hunger, and more than 25 million people who are forced to access emergency food annually; and
- Expand programs for regional innovation, entrepreneurship and asset building for rural America.
“U.S. agriculture wants to work with Congress to make sure farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are economically viable, to protect and improve our environment, to achieve energy independence and serve those who would otherwise go hungry,” Grossi says. “Punxsutawny Phil is a symbol of seasonal change, and it’s fitting to think about the policy changes and funding needed for agriculture’s future.”
American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to saving America’s farm and ranch land, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and supporting a sustainable future for farms. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save millions of acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more.
AFT’s national office is located in Washington, DC. Phone: 202-331-7300. For more information, visit www.farmland.org.