Saturday, October 08, 2005

What farmers are thinking, USDA web link

It's not that often we get to hear what's on the mind of the agricultural community when they are trying to speak truth to power. The transcript of Sec. of Agriculture Mike Johann's recent "listening session" in Lubbock should be a treasure-trove when it is posted at If it's like the others posted from previous sessions elsewhere, the speakers' names and hometowns and affiliations with producer and marketing associations with be given. Watch for the transcript to be posted at

Here are the questions Johann is asking at these "listening sessions" - the issues as framed by irresponsible taxcutting multi national corporate minions. Watch for straw men arguments - ha ha.

Question 1: The challenges facing new farmers and ranchers as they enter agriculture.

Some observers note that while farm policy has served agriculture and the country well in the past, there are "unintended consequences" that should be addressed, such as the capitalization of program benefits into land prices. These higher land prices are cited as a barrier to entry into agriculture for new farmers; a factor in reduced profit for existing farmers; and a cause of weakened competitive position on the part of U.S. farmers compared with farmers in countries with lower-priced land.

How should farm policy address any unintended consequences and ensure that such consequences do not discourage new farmers and the next generation of farmers from entering production agriculture?

Question 2: The competitiveness of U.S. agriculture in global and domestic markets.

As bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade negotiations continue to result in reduced barriers to international trade, exports and imports of agricultural products are expected to become increasingly important factors in U.S. and global agriculture. Obtaining ever-greater access to growing foreign markets and being increasingly competitive in these and in domestic markets is essential for farm economic growth. One key factor in our ability to be competitive depends on the types of products demanded around the world in the next 10 to 20 years and our ability to produce products that meet this world demand.

How should farm policy be designed to maximize U.S. competitiveness and our country's ability to effectively compete in global markets?

Question 3: The appropriateness and effectiveness of the distribution of farm program benefits.

A longstanding goal of farm policy has been to enhance and stabilize farm prices and incomes. Current farm programs, including crop insurance, distribute assistance based on past and current production levels. Some argue that the current farm support system encourages increases in farm size and results in the disproportionate distribution of program benefits to large farms. It has also been suggested that program incentives lead to increased production and lower market prices.

How should farm policy be designed to effectively and fairly distribute assistance to producers?

Question 4: The achievement of conservation and environmental goals.
While producing food and fiber are essential functions, agriculture also plays a major role in natural resource stewardship. Some have suggested that future farm policy might be anchored around the provision of tangible benefits such as cleaner water and air. Such an approach may be consistent with future World Trade Organization obligations on domestic support to agriculture, while also expanding farm programs to extend more broadly across agriculture, including private forest lands.

How can farm policy best achieve conservation and environmental goals?

Question 5: The enhancement of rural economic growth.

Farming and rural America once were almost synonymous. Over the years, the demographic and economic characteristics of rural areas have changed, as has farming's role in the rural economy. This raises the issue of whether more Government attention should be focused on investing in the infrastructure in rural America (for example, investing in new technologies).
How can Federal rural and farm programs provide effective assistance in rural areas?

Question 6: The opportunities to expand agricultural products, markets, and research.

Changes in farm and market structure over past decades have led to suggestions that farm policy could be more flexible by enabling greater support for a broader range of activities helpful to agriculture market expansion. Examples are: attention to product quality and new attributes; organic and specialty crops; value-added products, including renewable energy and bioproducts and new uses for farm products generally; expanded basic and applied research; domestic and foreign market development; and similar activities.

How should agricultural product development, marketing and research-related issues be addressed in the next farm bill?


At 5:00 PM, Blogger Synthesis said...

wow, there's a lot here to go through.

Thank you for posting Sue.

At 2:39 AM, Blogger El Ranchero said...

Glad to see there's a progressive Lubbock blog! Like the post; keep up the good work.


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