Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Debate over the Future of Rural America Begins

Congress is beginning deliberations over a new farm and rural policy bill slated for this year.

You have a unique opportunity to make a difference.

--- editor's note - the following action alert was sent to our supporters in Iowa. Obviously, if you are outside Iowa you should communicate with your Senators and Representative. If you need to know who to write to, post a question here or contact me, Letters from the 7th district in Minnesota to Representative Collin Peterson, House Ag Committee Chair, are also particularly important. But all of our Senators and Representatives need to hear from us.

Senator Tom Harkin chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. Under his leadership, Congress will decide whether to continue subsidizing mega farms to drive smaller operations out of business, or target support to family size farms and invest in proven strategies to revitalize rural America. If we don’t speak out now, Congress will likely continue the failed approach of subsidizing the destruction of family farming.

Your letter to your Senator will influence the outcome and help shape the future of rural America. Early letters matter most because they help shape the debate before positions are hardened. With your help, we will reach our goal of 500 letters to Senator Harkin by March 15.

Please write today to Senator Tom Harkin, Attention Susan Keith, Room 328A, Russell Senate Building, Washington DC 20510; Fax 202 228 4576; or email Key points to make include:

Close the loopholes and make the paper limits real. Stop allowing mega farms to increase payments by subdividing on paper into multiple entities or between spouses. Limits should be limits, regardless of how farms are organized.

Without real limits, farm programs don’t work. They subsidize mega farms to drive smaller operations out of business by bidding land away from them. And large, aggressively expanding producers bid farm their payments into land prices, forcing everyone to higher rent and property taxes. Unlimited farm programs do nothing to increase operators' incomes except on previously owned land.

Just say no to any farm bill without meaningful payment limitations. Rural America cannot afford another farm bill that destroys family farming.

Describe your farm – the struggles you face and how real payment limitations would make a difference. This makes your letter unique and demonstrates you are a truly concerned citizen with opinions that deserve to be heard.

Good letters don’t have to be long – one page is more than enough. Typed or hand written is fine. In email, it is essential to include your name and address so they know you are a constituent.

Farm bill discussions are starting so please send the letter or email soon. This farm bill should be about the people of rural America. By writing, you are taking responsibility for shaping our future. We cannot expect others to help us, if we don’t act ourselves. The future of rural America is in our hands.

Please let us know you have taken action and taken responsibility for the future of rural America.

Post a comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

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  • At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    if you haven't sent a letter about payment limits yet, you should, and if you haven't read Mr. Crabtree's letter to Senator Harkin yet (in the next post) do that before you write yours, it is inspirational
    whiting, iowa

  • At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I read John's letter, and i wrote a letter as well and I will send it tomorrow
    Dougherty, Iowa

  • At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Which is better, e-mail or an actual letter?

  • At 12:06 AM, Blogger Center for Rural Affairs said…

    There is a lot of debate about this, but let me answer as simply as I know how.

    An actual paper letter is best, thanks, John Crabtree, Center for Rual Affairs,

  • At 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I sent an e-mail to Susan Keith, the staffer for Senator Harkin that was listed in the Center's action alert. I sent it several days ago, but have not received a response.

  • At 12:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I sent an e-mail to Susan Keith as well, but I have not gotten a response yet either.

  • At 6:52 AM, Anonymous said…

    This is an amazing information. I like your blog. Thanks!


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