Farm Bill Hits Home Stretch

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During the week of Nov. 5, the full U.S. Senate will debate and vote on the 2007 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill that came out of the Senate Agriculture Committee has some key reforms, but fails to dedicate dollars to critical beginning farmer programs and contains virtually no limits on excessive commodity program payments. Once the Senate Bill passes, Congressional conferees from the House and Senate will get together to hammer out a final law, which will then be sent to the President later this fall. If you want to have a say in farm policy as it relates to conservation, food safety, rural community development and the future of our food and farming system in general, now is the time to speak up. And when you do speak up, remember this phrase: Dorgan-Grassley Payment Limitation Reform Amendment.

Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) will introduce the Dorgan-Grassley Payment Limitation Reform Amendment on the floor during the Senate Farm Bill debate. This amendment will cap commodity payments to producers at $250,000 per person, close loopholes and shift the expected $1.1 billion in savings to beginning farmer, conservation, nutrition and rural development programs.

One of the Land Stewardship Project’s major priorities in the 2007 Farm Bill is to pass funding and policies that will help the next generation of farmers take advantage of opportunities in agriculture and overcome barriers to succeed. The primary effort to support beginning farmers is the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which would provide resources to community-based beginning farmer training, education and mentoring efforts.

In the House Bill passed in July, $15 million per year in mandatory funding was secured for this program with the help of Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN) and House Agriculture Chair Collin Peterson (D-MN). The Senate Farm Bill doesn’t include funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. If passed, the Dorgan-Grassley Payment Limitation Reform Amendment would dedicate dollars to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and other beginning farmer programs.

This is the week to contact our Minnesota Senators on the 2007 Farm Bill.

Contact Sen. Norm Coleman at 202-224-5641, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 202-224-3244.

The basic message is this:

I want Sen. (Coleman/Klobuchar) to support the Dorgan-Grassley Payment Limitation Reform Amendment on the Senate floor. This amendment will secure funds for beginning farmer, conservation and rural development programs while also capping the wasteful, unneeded commodity payments to the largest mega farms. It’s a good amendment for Minnesota and the strongest reform being proposed. Can I count on my Senator to support the Dorgan- Grassley Payment Limitation Reform Amendment?

CALLS ARE NEEDED NOW. If it passes, this amendment will secure resources for beginning farmer programs and other conservation and rural development priorities.

When you call, say that you want to leave a message for the Senator. Ask them to write down your message and make sure to say who you are and where you’re from. If you have to, it’s okay to leave a message on voice mail.

Questions? Contact LSP at 612-722-6377.

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