December 12, 2006

Farm Bill Reports

Kansas farm producers have released "34 unanimous recommendations" for the expected 2007 Farm Bill, which would replace expiring 2002 appropriations. One of the recommendations is the inclusion of fruit and vegetable farming in the current commodity programs. Currently, fruit and vegetable growers aren't eligible for certain incentives and assistance offered to producers of staple grains and legumes. A broadening of the commodity title might encourage greater on-farm biodiversity and could give farmers more leeway to pursue sustainable pest control methods and crop rotations.

On the other hand, commodity title incentives might be cut by 42%, so expanding the number of items covered under it might not produce as much of an effect as could be hoped. The American Farm Bureau Federation is petitioning the White House to maintain commodity funding at present levels, at a minimum.

(D-MN 7), the incoming chair of the House Agriculture Committee, says that the new Farm Bill will be written out in the open in a public process. He says the bill writing won't begin until budget numbers are available in March and that it will hopefully be completed before the August recess. Peterson also plans on separating disaster relief for farmers out of the Farm Bill process, possibly handing the responsibility to the Secretary of Agriculture to prevent capricious appropriations schedules from holding up aid and turning it into a permanent program.

(D-IA), incoming chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, shares Peterson's interest in greater support for biofuels and conservation funding. However, neither of them seem to expect a bill that deviates widely from existing policy.

Posted by natasha at December 12, 2006 05:03 AM | Agriculture | Technorati links |