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American Farm Bureau heralds passage of new farm bill

WASHINGTON—Members of the House and Senate stood up for America’s farmers and ranchers last week, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The organization said new federal farm policy approved on Capitol Hill gives U.S. producers assurance and stability at a time when domestic food security is more important than ever.

AFBF President Bob Stallman said Farm Bureau members were disappointed that President Bush intended to veto the bill. That veto occurred yesterday; a Congressional override is possible.

Stallman urged lawmakers to maintain their commitment to agriculture going forward.

“No farm bill ever is perfect, but this bill includes substantial reforms,” he said. “Members of the conference committee did an outstanding job addressing the administration’s concerns regarding financing. Moreover, in spite of a cut in the cornerstone support offered by direct payments, this is a good, solid bill for American agriculture, American consumers and the environment.”

The farm bill approved “strikes a key balance,” Stallman said. “The bill provides vital support for nutrition, conservation, research, food safety and many other programs that benefit all Americans.

“Farm bills are most important in bad times, and given the cyclical nature of agriculture and the vagaries of weather, American farmers and ranchers need a basic, no-frills safety net in place to fall back on as they work to provide food and fuel for the U.S. and the world.”

Stallman said the farm bill and the stability it offers are critical, given the range of complex issues affecting food supplies and prices everywhere. “Against a backdrop of growing global food security concerns, this carefully crafted legislation will enable America’s farmers and ranchers to continue serving as the world’s major food producers,” he said.

Though prices for corn, soybeans and other commodities are favorable at this point, American farmers and ranchers are not reaping a windfall. Production expenses and input costs such as fuel, fertilizer and feed are at all-time highs, making it more expensive than ever to produce a crop or raise livestock.

“The three-legged safety net of direct payments, marketing loans and counter-cyclical programs provides our farmers an essential level of financial security at a time when their markets and expenses are so volatile,” Stallman said.

Contact Mace Thornton, 202-406-3641, or Tracy Taylor Grondine, 202-406-3642, AFBF public relations


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