Sunday, March 25, 2007

Small Farmers Advocate Needs in Farm Bill

Small farmers, especially fruit and vegetable farmers are making alot of noise this year to be included in the 2007 farm bill. Historically most of the revenue went to corn, soybean, wheat, cotton and rice, but other groups are now wanting to be included.

But the old Farm Bill culture is changing. Western farmers are demanding
that specialty crops -- fruits and vegetables -- get a piece of the pie, and
support research and marketing programs that will directly benefit Valley
agriculture.
Yet a specialty-crops strategy must also include encouraging
new specialty-crop farmers. By modifying current USDA Farm Bill proposals, we
have an opportunity to encourage, train and help establish diversity as part of
the new American farmer profile.
Women are playing a larger role in
agriculture, along with many from non-agrarian backgrounds. I welcome the "city
slickers" and their idealism to reinvigorate our farmlands. I want to be
inclusive, not exclusive. I don't think we can afford to exclude anyone who
wants to farm.
Perhaps the greatest potential lies with the new ethnic
farmer. Historically, immigrant families arrived in a new land, worked the soil
and struggled to become part of America by planting roots.

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