July 29, 2004

Agriculture & the Senators

A panel of bloggers got to put Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Harkin (D-IA) on the hotseat tonight. I asked them about agricultural policy, because when you take a lot of biology classes and have a lot of allergies, you take an interest in how food is grown.

I asked Senator Durbin about a response he'd sent in to a consumer voting education group saying that he supported keeping agricultural funding 'about the same.' My question was what his opinion was on the large amount of such subsidies that went to large agribusinesses.

Durbin said that he'd worked to change it in every farm bill, voting to limit the amount of funding given to any individual producer. To date, there haven't been enough votes to pass it, even though the last time the provision was sponsored by a Republican. He said that while it's important to support family farms, "big businesses can take care of themselves."

I asked Senator Harkin, whose constituents I know to be concerned about this issue, what could be done to save family farms and small producers.

Harkin said that he'd tried in the last farm bill to shift the emphasis, and won the largest increase ever in conservation funding. He said that smaller landowners often put much more value on being good stewards of the land, and suggested that conservation should be seen as a commodity. Other things he said would help included supporting renewables, biomass, and windpower, all of which could potentially add to non-farm income. He even mentioned getting broadband out to farming communities, which would also allow the possibility of additional income, as well as providing better access to information.

Posted by nat in boston at July 29, 2004 03:57 AM | Elections | TrackBack(2) | Technorati links |

First, thanks for blogging the convention. You are worth reading. Next, broadband. That's between $40 and $60 per month to the local ILEC, and additional expense. If you wanted to generate revenue your (virtual) machine(s) would be in a regional colo offering managed service with better environmentals, real internet access, and managed (as a business application) by a low-cost and highly-reliable, highly-redundant dial-up.

For surfing (not a revenue generator), audio/video bitstreams (PG-13 or adult, and an additional expense), "broadband" is attractive, especially if one is an access ISP.

I have a quarter acre, so I'm going to make additional income as a farmer. Sell that in Iowa. That's about what "getting broadband out to farming communities ... additional income" means. YMMV.

Posted by: Eric at July 29, 2004 05:01 AM