January 12, 2007
January 12, 2007 - While no details are so far available, the 2007 Farm Bill that will be introduced next month is likely to call for less spending on farm supports, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns hinted during an address to the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting in Salt Lake City on Monday.
"Good policy must take into account much more than dollar count," Johanns said. "It must be tailored to provide strong support that is relevant to current trends and forward-looking for future growth."
If the 2002 Farm Bill had simply been renewed, as many farm organizations preferred, the dollar figure would have dropped by as much as $20 billion, he noted, due to stronger crop markets.
Crop subsidies reached a peak in fiscal 2000, a lackluster year, at $32 billion, and declined as farms became more productive and profitable, with subsidies now at the $20 billion level. Renewable energy has introduced a new market for key crops and while it has put pressure on the livestock industries, it has been good for farmers overall, Johanns said, adding that he expects the livestock industry to 'adjust' to high corn, soybean and other feed prices.
Farm spending is likely to shift from subsidies to providing higher loan limits for beginning farmers, Johanns said. That would bring the United States into closer harmony with international trade standards; Canada, Brazil and the European Union have filed complaints with the World Trade Organization in recent times over protectionist behavior in the U.S. agricultural sector, Johanns said.
He also said the bill is likely to address inequities in subsidies, 54 percent of which goes to the top 15 percent of farms by size and sales. About 60 percent of farmers, generally smaller, family operations, receive no direct subsidies at all. Reprinted from meatingplace.com