Farm bill is hot topic for Farm Bureau

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WASHINGTON – Some things are fine just the way they are.
The 2002 farm bill is one of those things, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
More than 70 county Farm Bureau presidents from Ohio spread this message around Washington D.C. in early March, asking their representatives in Congress to continue the structure and funding set forth in the 2002 farm bill, which expires next year.
Several political leaders met with Farm Bureau members to discuss the topic.
“I think we need to develop a vision of what it is we’re trying to accomplish with the farm bill,” said House Majority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio representative who formerly served on the House Committee on Agriculture.
New players. He added there are several new players to consider for the 2007 farm bill, including fruit and vegetable growers.
USDA Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner said it’s important to develop a farm bill that’s not only good for the near future, but one with long-term benefits as well.
He said the farm bill should make the future brighter for the next generation of producers.
“We want to make sure the next farm bill doesn’t discourage these guys,” he told Ohio Farm Bureau members during a breakfast meeting March 8.
American Farm Bureau Federation policy aims to negotiate a WTO agreement that accomplishes U.S. objectives and then modifies the country’s domestic programs.
Negotiations on market access and domestic support should be defined before a new farm bill is drafted or significant budget reductions are accepted, according to Farm Bureau policy.
Conner said the outcome of WTO negotiations must be fair to all of the countries involved.
“We must live by the trade rules ourselves that we expect others to live by,” he said.
Enough is enough. U.S. Rep. Tim Holden, D-Pa., a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, said agriculture should not have to suffer anymore budget cuts.
“We believe agriculture has done more than its fair share to get the financial house in order,” he said.
He also said the farm bill hearings being held around the country are a good way for policy makers to determine what works and what doesn’t for farmers.
“We really need the opportunity to get around the country and roll up our sleeves and kick the tires and see what we did right and what we did wrong,” he said.
Farmers know best. U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, R-St. Clairsville, told a group of his Farm Bureau constituents he would look to their leadership in regard to farm bill policy.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to follow what you say on the farm bill because you know it better than I do,” he said.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

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