by John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs, email@example.com
November’s election caused a shift in leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture committees, just as the farm bill debate begins in earnest.
Rural voters from across the nation helped put Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN) at the helm of American farm and rural policy. But no one in rural America believes that is sufficient to bring about the fundamental reforms necessary for the future of rural America.
Agricultural and rural policy is more regional than partisan. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) are leading proponents of the most pivotal issue in the farm bill debate, federal farm payment limitations. Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) lead the opposition.
Rural polls, from across America, have shown decisive support for limiting farm program payments that mega-farms use to bid up land costs and drive smaller neighbors out. Family farmers, beginning farmers, rural communities… all suffer under a farm program that subsidizes consolidation and diverts financial resources away from investment in practical strategies that can revitalize rural America.
Congress can develop a farm bill that works for everyone. Payment limitations could affect cotton and rice farms at fewer acres than other commodities. Calibrating payment limitations to make them regionally equitable should be pursued.
Congressional supporters of reform must show resolve, however, and refuse to support any farm bill that destroys family farming and undermines rural communities. Rural people must stand up and speak out to ensure that Congress does not forget about rural America.
Agree? Disagree? Post a comment here or contact John Crabtree, firstname.lastname@example.org
Center for Rural Affairs
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