By John Crabtree, firstname.lastname@example.org
Throughout the summer, there were over 20 congressional farm-bill field hearings. And not one hearing included a substantive discussion of rural development, not one.
Testimony from farmers about farm programs that impact their lives directly is crucial. However, providing no opportunity to discuss rural development provisions of the farm bill means that other rural citizens who have much to offer and much at stake in this debate are not being heard.
Rural development programs have been sidelined in the farm policy debates too often, making rural development programs the last to be funded and first to be cut.
We can do better than this. The Center for Rural Affairs has proposed quadrupling rural entrepreneurial development in the 2007 farm bill – including efforts to foster farm and ranch entrepreneurship and innovation as well as the next generation of family farmers and ranchers. Payment limits that reduce the cost of farm programs by just ten percent would free up in excess of $1 billion to invest in the long term future of rural America.
Moreover, limiting farm-program payments that mega farms use to drive smaller operations out of business would be the single most effective thing Congress could do to strengthen family farms.
Limits that trim just a nickel from the farm program dollar could fund the Center’s rural development proposals and still provide an additional $250 million for investment in bio-energy and broadband telecommunications.
Is a nickel from every farm-program dollar too much to ask for the future of rural America?
post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree, email@example.com
Center for Rural Affairs
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