Johanns Unveils Farm Bill Proposals
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns yesterday unveiled the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) 2007 farm bill proposals. The more than 65 proposals correspond to the 2002 farm bill titles with additional special focus areas, including specialty crops, beginning farmers and ranchers, and socially disadvantaged producers.
“We listened closely to producers and stakeholders all across the country and took a reform-minded and fiscally responsible approach to making farm policy more equitable, predictable and protected from challenge,” Johanns said. “We started with the 2002 farm bill and propose to improve it by bolstering support for emerging priorities and focusing on a market-oriented approach.”
The proposals represent the final phase of a nearly two-year process. Each detailed proposal provides information about why a change is needed, the recommended solution, and relevant background information about the impacted program or policy.
Highlights of the proposals include (funding reflects 10-year totals):
• Increase conservation funding by $7.8 billion; simplify and consolidate conservation programs; create a new Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and a Regional Water Enhancement Program
• Provide $1.6 billion in new funding for renewable energy research, development and production, targeted for cellulosic ethanol, which will support $2.1 billion in guaranteed loans for cellulosic projects and includes $500 million for a bio-energy and bio-based product research initiative
• Target nearly $5 billion in funding to support specialty crop producers by increasing nutrition in food assistance programs, including school meals, through the purchase of fruits and vegetables, funding specialty crop research, fighting trade barriers and expanding export markets
• Provide $250 million to increase direct payments for beginning farmers and ranchers, reserve a percentage of conservation funds and provide more loan flexibility for down payment, land purchasing and farm-operating loans
• Support socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers by reserving a percentage of conservation assistance funds and providing more access to loans for down payments, land purchasing and farm operating
• Strengthen disaster relief by establishing a revenue-based counter-cyclical program, providing gap coverage in crop insurance, linking crop insurance participation to farm program participation, and creating a new emergency landscape restoration program
• Simplify and consolidate rural development programs while providing $1.6 billion in loans to rehabilitate all current Rural Critical Access Hospitals and $500 million in grants and loans for rural communities to decrease the backlog of rural infrastructure projects
• Dedicate nearly $400 million to trade efforts to expand exports, fight trade barriers, and increase involvement in world trade standard-setting bodies
• Simplify, modernize, and rename the Food Stamp Program to improve access for the working poor, better meet the needs of recipients and states, and strengthen program integrity
The Administration’s 2007 farm bill proposals would spend approximately $10 billion less than the 2002 farm bill spent during the past five years (excluding ad-hoc disaster assistance). These proposals would provide approximately $5 billion more than the projected spending if the 2002 farm bill were extended.
The proposals are available at www.usda.gov/farmbill. Also posted on USDA’s web site are the Farm Bill Forum transcripts, farm bill comments submitted by the public, theme papers summarizing the comments and USDA analysis papers.
release provided by USDA
Tennessee Program Offers Cattle Incentive
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is paying producers up to $500 for marketing their cattle through a USDA-approved age- and source-verified program and state-approved precondition program, according to an article appearing in The Leaf Chronicle.
Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens said producers will be paid up to $250 for cattle enrolled in each program.
“With these payments, we want to encourage better cattle management and to ensure that Tennessee cattle producers have access to domestic and international markets where age and source verification is fast becoming a standard,” Givens stated in the article.
The new marketing incentive program, according to The Leaf Chronicle, is in addition to cattle genetic and handling facilities cost-share incentives funded through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program.
Survey Shows Support for Beef Checkoff
A nationwide survey released last week shows cattlemen support the beef checkoff, the Missouri Beef Industry Council reports.
According to the organization, the survey found that 72% of producers approve of the beef checkoff program. Survey results also show 82% of cattlemen are in favor of voting periodically on the continuation of the checkoff program, and 92% of respondants would like to see all or at least a portion of beef checkoff dollars used to promote only U.S.-born-and-raised beef.
The survey, which was conducted by the Gallup Organization, was a result of a May 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a court case between the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA). The survey interviewed 80,000 producers during October and November 2006. The full report is available at www.ams.usda.gov/lsg/mpb/rp-beef.htm.
compiled by Crystal Albers, associate editor, Angus Productions Inc.
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