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What They’re Saying About the Administration’s Farm Bill Proposals


Farm bill offers opportunity: “Global warming and the need for renewable energy resources have now caused Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns to work for the ”greenest“ - and most economically rational - farm bill in U.S. history... The Bush administration’s new plan seeks to end what is now seven decades of failure by reining in some of the giveaways while harnessing the power of American farmers to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. The heart of the Bush plan trades the failed commodity subsidies for a more reliable farm income maintenance system, coupled with a rural development program and an expanded food stamp program for needy Americans...It’s an ambitious agenda and one that offers special benefits to rural Colorado. We urge the state’s two members on the House Agriculture Committee, Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and Democratic Rep. John Salazar, to continue the support they are already giving to these progressive reforms that will benefit Colorado farmers while protecting the state’s environment.” (Editorial, Denver Post, 5/23/2007)

Ending an addiction: “Instead of buying only American-grown food and shipping it across the globe -- with the food sometime arriving too late to do any good -- Johanns wants to use a quarter of the Food for Peace budget to purchase food in poor countries near the famine regions. Such a change would help bolster local farm economies and help poor nations avoid future famines. But the biggest prize would be a phaseout for subsidies of cotton, corn and other commodities.” (Editorial, Sacramento Bee, 4/24/07)

Washington Harvest: “All in all, some 38,000 ’farmers’ who reported AGI of more than $200,000 in 2004 received more than $400 million in federal farm subsidies, or about 5% of all farm program payments that year. Quite the sweet deal.” (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 3/27, 2007)

2007 Farm Bill: A commitment to rural America: “The Administration’s 2007 farm bill proposals represent a reform-minded and fiscally responsible approach to supporting America’s farmers and ranchers. The proposals continue this Administration’s commitment to increase conservation programs that protect our natural resources and focus support on renewable energy that will help to lead us to the President’s goal of reducing annual gasoline use by 20 percent in ten years.” (Greeley Tribune, 3/21/2007)

A Bill Democrats Should Like: “...This is one administration program that the Democrats can and should support. (Rep. John Spratt) and other House leaders would be doing the environment, small farmers and the cause of free trade a great favor by embracing it.” (Editorial, New York Times, 3/12/2007)

Farm Bill proposal is a good start: “Overall, the proposal is reform-minded and even a bit forward-thinking. It’s a good start.” (Rural Policy Research Institute, 3/8/2007)

Farm bill deserves a favorable look: “Congress should give favorable consideration to the legislation, which would authorize the nation’s farm programs for the next five years. The measure would bring U.S. farm policy more in line with World Trade Organization rules.” (Editorial, Kansas City Star, 3/4/2007)

The Future of Farming: “Mike Johanns, the secretary of agriculture, has unveiled his proposals for a new farm bill, which on the whole seems remarkably promising...The bill could also turn out to be one of the administration’s more innovative energy initiatives. Implicitly recognizing that corn ethanol needs no more subsidies, it offers incentives to grow grasses that could be turned into another fuel called cellulosic ethanol.” (Editorial, New York Times, 2/17/2007)

Bush tackles waste in farm subsidies: “In a surprising reversal of decades-old agricultural policy, President Bush is proposing that the government begin to trim its wasteful farm subsidy program...Charles Bronson, Florida’s agriculture secretary, praised the new approach. ’For the first time ever, there is a strong focus on fruit, vegetable and nursery crops, which now make up almost 55 percent of cash receipts in agriculture.’” (Editorial, St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/2007)

Bush’s farm bill outlines bold moves: “Others have applauded the fact that the limits will get subsidies into the hands of those who need it most, and free up some money for other programs: conservation, rural development, incentives and help for new and young farmers, and alternative energy development.” (Christian Science Monitor, 2/12/2007)

Bush’s proposed farm bill would make U.S. agriculture leaner, cleaner: “As the public debate begins around a new federal farm bill for 2007, the Bush administration’s proposal takes some good steps: reducing subsidies, encouraging development of biofuels and rewarding conservation.” (Editorial, Columbus Dispatch, 2/11/2007)

Moving farm policy in the right direction; Bush administration offers a thoughtful farm bill plan: “The Bush administration’s farm proposal, released on Jan. 31, is a good start on each front. Congress can improve on the details, but the blueprint developed by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns is a serious, thorough effort to push farm policy in new directions...This plan isn’t a radical overhaul of federal farm policy, but it’s a realistic start toward admirable goals.” (Editorial, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/10/2007)

Checks for gentlemen farmers: “An intelligent reform program proposed by President George W. Bush would rein in such absurdities...The Bush proposal would lessen the link between subsidies and the production of specific crops and pay farmers to prevent pollution and preserve wetlands and wildlife habitat. Commodity subsidies would drop by $4.5 billion, while conservation programs would gain $7.8 billion over 10 years. Ethanol production - a favorite investment among Missouri and Illinois farmers - also would get a boost.” (Editorial, St. Louis Post Dispatch, 2/8/2007)

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA): “I was pleased to see that Secretary Johanns included some good ideas in his proposals, even though there are some areas where we disagree,” said Rep. Peterson. “Today, we had the opportunity to engage in a good dialogue with Secretary Johanns and delve into the details of the USDA’s farm bill proposal. One of the ideas warranting further investigation is the proposal to convert the current price-based counter-cyclical program to a revenue-based counter-cyclical program. We need to understand exactly how that might work and the implications for farmers and ranchers,” said Rep. Goodlatte.

Boosting Conservation, Consolidation, Simplification, Coordination Help USDA Focus on Land: “Johanns’ guidance on the department’s recommendations seem clear -- in the simplified language and easier registration processes, in sensitivity to the protection of environmentally significant land and in the respect for input from farmers, ranchers and the public The secretary and his department have done their job well. If Congress goes along, the USDA’s conservation programs will be stronger. And so will the land they protect.” (Editorial, Omaha World-Herald, 2/2/2007)

For Farm Reforms to Succeed, Congress Must Stand Up to Ag Lobby: “The Bush administration has proposed legislation that would improve a flawed system of agriculture subsidies and cost taxpayers less money. The current farm aid program mostly benefits big agriculture operations, encourages overproduction and invites fraud, and the White House deserves credit for at least proposing to overhaul it.” (Editorial, Atlanta Journal - Constitution, 2/5/2007)

Give Farm Policy a New Direction: “The administration plan takes an important step toward reform by eliminating some crop subsidies based on prices and replacing them with payments based on farmers’ revenue.” (Editorial, Wisconsin State Journal, 2/3/2007)

Iowans Could Gain Under Farm Proposals: “The Bush administration is proposing an overhaul of farm programs that could benefit Iowa’s booming farm economy while expanding conservation programs and promoting biofuels.” (Editorial, Des Moines Register, 2/1/2007)

Farm Bill Could Wind Up A Sweet Deal For S.J.: “A massive overhaul of national farm policy is coming, and California - including San Joaquin County - could be a big winner.” (Editorial, San Joaquin County Record, 2/2/2007)

Proposed U.S. Farm Bill “Historic”: “Mike Wootton, senior vice president of Sherman Oaks-based Sunkist Growers citrus cooperative, called the bill ’historic.’ ’For the first time, growers of specialty crops will have a significant place in the farm bill,’ he said.” (Los Angeles Times, 2/1/2007)

Proposed U.S. farm bill may benefit California: “In a potential windfall for California farmers, the Bush administration proposed a farm bill Wednesday that would boost spending for conservation, organic crops, and fruit and vegetable producers. ’This is not your grandfather’s farm bill,’ said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that tracks farm subsidies. ’For the first time, growers of specialty crops will have a significant place in the farm bill,’ said Mike Wootton, senior vice president of Sherman Oaks-based Sunkist Growers citrus cooperative.” (LA Times 2/1/2007)

USDA Outlines a Plan to Cut Farm Subsidies; Proposal Would Close Many Loopholes: “The Bush administration yesterday proposed ending farm subsidies for an estimated 80,000 wealthy individuals as part of a broad plan that would close loopholes and cut traditional farm programs by $4.5 billion over the next 10 years.” (The Washington Post 2/1/2007)

Sen. John Thune (R-SD): “I like the direction they’re going. That they’re acknowledging that these program payments ought to be targeted to full-time family farm operations and not to the really huge conglomerate operations makes sense to me.”

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA): “The administration also brought forward a reasonable approach to conservation by focusing on the land that needs the greatest environmental benefits. Farmers should be allowed to put the most sensitive land into conservation and be allowed to farm the good land.”

“Oxfam America, a trade advocacy group and frequent critic of the Bush administration, yesterday commended the administration for trying to move U.S. farm policy ’in a new direction.’” (Oxfam Press Release, 2/1/2007)

“Ducks Unlimited is encouraged to see the President’s support of conservation in this Farm Bill proposal. The increased funding for conservation would provide meaningful gains for proven conservation programs that benefit farmers, ranchers, and waterfowl alike. The continued support for the Wetlands Reserve Program is a welcome indication of the President’s commitment to a net gain of wetlands.” (Ducks Unlimited, Press Release, 2/2/2007)

“This is not your grandfather’s farm bill...I know there are a lot of folks in the subsidy lobby who’d like it to have been more of the same, but I think the secretary of agriculture and the Bush administration have planted the flag of reform.” Ken Cook, President of The Environmental Working Group

“USDA’s 2007 farm bill proposals are a positive step towards a more market-oriented farm program... The bill’s proposals would help reduce market distorting trade subsidies and serves to demonstrate the administration’s commitment to advocating agricultural policies that can hopefully lead to a successful completion of the Doha round of trade talks.” The Grocery Manufacturers/Food Products Association

“We’re extremely pleased with this kind of recognition of this portion of American agriculture, which is roughly half of U.S. crop agriculture. Finally the government and the Farm Bill recognize the place of specialty crop agriculture in the nation’s agriculture policy, and that alone is a significant milestone.” Tim Chelling, Western Growers Spokesman

“We are keeping an open mind about the administration’s proposal and intend to give it full consideration.” Bob Stallman, President of American Farm Bureau Federation

“We are greatly encouraged that the USDA will advocate the continuation of the dairy price support program. ... Our organization is still working on its own detailed proposals for the future of the price support program, and it’s heartening to know that we appear to be on the same wavelength as the Agriculture Department when it comes to the need to keep this safety net program.” Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation

“We appreciate the efforts of Secretary Johanns and USDA staff to develop such a thorough Farm Bill proposal. It will help spark an important dialogue as expiration of the 2002 Farm Bill nears and discussion begins in earnest on new legislation. ... I’m encouraged to see that the USDA proposal addresses a number of the issues we heard about from Nebraska farmers and ranchers during several listening sessions held here in our state.” Greg Ibach, Nebraska Agriculture Director

“For the first time ever, there is a strong focus on fruit, vegetable, and nursery crops which now make up almost 55% of cash receipts in agriculture. ... USDA Secretary Mike Johanns had indicated that he intended for the next farm bill to more equitably distribute resources among all producers. He has made good on his promise to address the needs of all agriculture, including the small farmer.” Charles H. Bronson, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner

“We were glad to hear the secretary heard from the countryside some of the same concerns that our members have been telling us - there are gaps in the current farm bill’s safety net. ... USDA has obviously recognized the merit a farm bill such as NCGA’s revenue-based proposal would have in providing a more effective and efficient farm safety net for producers.” Ken McCauley, President of National Corn Growers Association

“Overall, specialty crops account for nearly fifty percent of domestic farm gate crop value, but receive very little consideration in the current farm bill. We applaud Secretary Johanns for his remarks today. We believe the Administration’s farm bill proposals begin to focus the appropriate attention on specialty crops, and emphasize the importance of these crops to the economic well being of US agriculture.” John Keeling, National Potato Council Executive Vice President And CEO And Co-Chair Of The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance

“The 2007 Farm Bill proposals show the Administration’s support of biotechnology in both industrial and agricultural applications. ... We greatly appreciate the Administration’s demonstrated commitment to support companies researching and commercializing both ethanol from cellulose and biobased products from renewable agricultural resources. The proposals related to international trade illustrate the importance of internationally accepted regulatory standards, many of which affect biotech crops.” Jim Greenwod, Biotechnology Industry Organization President and CEO

“Overall, we like what we hear and what we’ve seen, because it improves the funding for specialty crops and conservation.” Leonard Blackham, Utah Agriculture Commissioner

“The industry is elated to be considered a major crop in the proposed 2007 Farm Bill... This will afford our industry more access to USDA programs, especially Phytosanitary and trade related support programs, due to the fact that 80 percent of our packed cartons goes to off shore markets.” Doug Bournique, Indian River Citrus League Executive Director


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