Agriculture News: Legislative Update, November 2011

Agriculture News: Legislative Update November,2011 from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition [bracketed text is my summary of part of the NSAC overview –TR], and it’s a mess.

As we head into the federal holiday for Veterans Day, not much solid information is known about the big three legislative processes with major import for food and agriculture. [With Agricultural Appropriations stuck in ‘conference’ between the House and Senate and little agreement in sight; the House and Senate Agriculture Committees 9 days late and counting in delivering a new Farm Bill to the Super Committee; and the Super Committee seemingly stuck somewhere between $3 Trillion and $1.2 and considering the sale of public lands as part of the deficit reduction package, the chances of quick resolution seem remote, especially with Congress on one of it’s all to frequent ‘recesses’] This much we know for sure — next week will be critical moment for all three.  Here is a quick rundown. Read more…

By the way, it’s also worth reading Mark Bittmans’ New York Times article “The Secret Farm Bill“. While possibly a bit alarmist, the basis for his critique is all totally in line with my what I’m hearing from Congressional aides and lobbyists in Washington. The transition of direct payment subsidies into de-facto subsidies for large commodity farms under a new ‘risk management’ program sounds like more or less a done deal, it’s just a question of what form it will take. And though that’s nothing new, it’s happening under the guise of getting rid of commodity subsidies, and at a time when we are looking at major cuts in programs that actually give us some ‘bang for the buck’ – like conservation. In my meetings with Senate staff, I’ve been told point blank that we can’t realistically think about increasing mandatory funding for programs for beginning farmers, which would constitute a fraction of 1% of the agriculture budget, including programs I’ve proposed to help with rehabilitation and job training for military veterans through farmer training. Something seems horribly wrong with that. Especially when we are simply waiting for the ‘Wizards of Ag’ to come out from behind the curtain and pronounce what will be done. What do you all think of this? I’d love to know. Please use the comment link on the top left or visit the Beginning Farmers Facebook Site, and let me know.

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