Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Farm Bill would give Arkansas Agriculture a Serious Blow

The farm bill is being vigoursly debated in the countryside as of late. One thing about American agriculture, is that it is a very diverse and complex industry. Each state has a different view of the farm bill and the impact it would have upon farmers and ranchers in their particular state. Arkansas according to at least one expert would be hit particularly hard by the Bush administrations proposal:

While it’s true that Southern row-crop farmers are likely to find USDA head
Mike Johanns’ farm bill proposal unpalatable, the fight is hardly over. Johanns
won’t author the final draft, Eric Wailes reminded rice farmers at the Arkansas
Rice Conference in Wynne, Ark.

A SURVEY of about 400 Arkansas farmers
shows “strong agreement across the state on bio-energy policy," said Eric
Wailes, University of Arkansas economist and professor at the recent Arkansas
Rice Conference in Wynne, Ark. “(Producers) want production incentives and a
reduction in dependency on non-renewable fuels.”
“I view the USDA proposal as
a kind of straw man,” said the University of Arkansas economist and professor.
“For one thing, the USDA and Bush administration won’t be writing the new farm
bill.”

He continues:

"From my perspective, a number of these things will have fairly significant
impacts on Arkansas rice producers. One that will be very painful is what’s
being proposed for payment limits. They want to lower and redefine the
eligibility gaps and eliminate the three-entity rule. They also want to increase
caps for direct payments and lower market and loan benefits along with
counter-cyclical caps.”

“Becoming pretty clear from the majority and minority parties is a strong
interest to maintain the 2002 farm bill. I believe both (House Agriculture
Committee Chairman) Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and (Senate Agriculture Committee
Chairman) Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, are pretty consistently saying, ‘modifications
will be needed, but we’ll keep the (2002 farm bill) framework
intact.’”
However, this bill writing exercise is much different than what
Congress faced in 2002. “Back then, we had budget surpluses. In 2007, we have
significant deficits. We have also gone through a set of issues regarding the
Doha round and trade reform.”

1 comment:

Nelson said...

Farming is a business and shouldn't get government subsidies nor special protections.