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Tag Archives: Farm Bill

Senate Passes the Farm Bill

After a six-week standoff, the Senate approved a $286 billion Farm Bill on Friday by a vote of 79-14. The vote was the largest margin to pass the Farm Bill in over 30 years, but reaction to the final Bill has been anything but unanimous. While, the Senate’s version of the Bill will provide new funds for some farm programs, food stamps and conservation, it will keep the much debated subsidies for farmers and ranchers in place. Rather than lower the cap on how much individual farmers receive, as outlined in the Dorgan-Grassley amendment, the Senate’s Bill will allow for subsidy payments as high as $750,000 that won't take effect until 2010. The Houston Chronicle reports Southern lawmakers used a procedural maneuver to prevent the approval of these stronger limits on subsidy payments to large, commercial rice and cotton growers. As it is, the Senate Bill allows subsidies to be made to farmers whose adjusted gross income is $2.5 million or less. Acting Secretary of Agriculture Charles Conner said Friday he was "disappointed" with the Senate Bill, particularly the rejection of the Dorgan-Grassley amendment that would have limited subsidy payments to $250,000 and free up $1.15 billion for anti-hunger programs, fragile grassland protection and the settlement of lawsuits filed by farmers of color suffering discrimination in government farm programs.

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Farming Park Avenue: Farm Subsidies from Manhattan to Montana

In early August, Mike Johanns, Secretary of Agriculture, spoke to Nashville farmers and ranchers about the 2007 Farm Bill, which regulates government expenditures for food and farm programs ranging from school lunch funding to farm subsidies. The bill is voted on every five years and is currently in the Senate where it will likely be reviewed in September. After commiserating about the drought and insidious grasshoppers, Johanns discussed proposed changes to subsidies in the Farm Bill and how those will affect farmers and ranchers in this country. According to Johanns, the USDA proposed that if farmers make an annual adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more, producers would “graduate” from receiving the Title I cash subsidies. Even that stipulation would only affect 38,000 farmers. By comparison, he argued that the House version of the Farm Bill, passed in July, will only affect 7,000 people because it will not graduate farmers unless they make $1 million annually. For Johanns this system is inequitable and to highlight the misuse of farm subsidies in the United States, the Secretary turned to a map of Manhattan, the New York City borough in the most densely populated county in the United States where land sells for $1,500 a square foot. Each red dot on the map represents a farm subsidy payment made under the 2002 farm bill with the largest circles representing quarter of a million dollar payments.

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America Is Paying A Steep Price For Cheap Food

George Wuerthner has been called a brilliant provocateur who knows how to get under the skin of Western ranchers. With this essay, one that is certain to incite a strong reaction from readers, he examines the costs of America's cheap food policy on both the U.S. Treasury and the environment. Wuerthner writes: "Agriculture is the most destructive land use in America." As an activist, trained biologist, photographer and environmental writer, he has become a prominent figure in the campaign to eliminate livestock from public lands. The author of several dozen books, Wuerthner also has written prolifically about forest ecology, wildfire, the impacts of ATVs and, of course, the effects of non-native cattle and sheep on native species. His coffee-table picture book,Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West, set off a firestorm of debate over the impacts of livestock and the multiple ways that beef production is subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. His most recent book is Wild Fire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. With this first piece, NewWest.Net is debuting a regular column from Mr. Wuerthner that will run twice a month on all things nature-related and anything that suits his fancy.

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