"There is a growing divide today in the attitudes of rural
America and Washington, D.C. While our leaders in Congress
seem stuck on cuts, closures, downsizing and destruction, the
people in rural America aspire to grow, open upgrade and
build this country." -- testimony of David Senter on behalf
of Farm Aid at USDA Farm Bill hearings November 1 in
The next few months promise to unfold unprecedented changes
in the history of agriculture policy. The 1990 Farm Bill,
which expired on October 1 and was temporarily extended
through a continuing resolution, could be replaced with a
seven-year congressional budget package that fully dismantles
historical agriculture law and most of the farm programs in
place today. Most of the spending reductions outlined by
lawmakers require the USDA to dismantle farm programs which
are important to the economic and cultural survival of family
farmers and the environmental sustainability of our nation's
Faced with this potential loss, family farm organizations are
calling on President Clinton to veto Congressional budget
language and to provide a platform for open debate among
lawmakers and the public over the future of America's
CONGRESS AGREES ON BUDGET PLAN TO END FARM PROGRAMS
Congress voted in favor of massive farm program changes that
would reduce agriculture spending by $13.4 billion over the
next seven years. Lawmakers agreed to replace major
commodity programs with a single program called the
"Agricultural Market Transition Program" that would
essentially repeal the 1938 and 1949 Agricultural Acts which
have guided farm policy for more than half a century. The
"Agricultural Market Transition Program" mandates the
following changes to federal farm policy:
*"Production Flexibility Contracts" would replace target
prices and deficiency payments with the decoupled subsidy
payments similar to those described in House Agriculture
Chair Pat Roberts' "Freedom to Farm" Act. Subsidies would be
capped and completely phased out by the year 2002. Farmers
would have to comply with existing conservation and wetlands
protection regulations in order to remain eligible for
payments. All other program participation requirements, such
as acreage reduction plans, would be eliminated.
*Nonrecourse Marketing Loans will remain available to farmers
throughout the next seven years. However loan rates will be
capped at the following 1995 levels: Rice: $6.50/cwt; Upland
Cotton: $.5192/lb -- eight month loan extension eliminated;
ELS Cotton: $0.7965/lb; Wheat: $2.58/bu; Corn: $1.89/bu; and
Soybeans: $4.92/bu. Loan rates are currently set below
family farmers' costs of production. Capping the loan rate
at current levels will prevent rates from matching future
increases in farmers' production costs. This will further
limit farmers' ability to avoid market risk and survive
*The payment limitation rule will be lowered from $50,000 to
$40,000. Farm groups agree that this is a step in the right
direction, however more effective reform of this rule would
have been to close loopholes that allow large farms to
collect up to $150,000.
*Additional farm program changes, totalling $2.77 billion in
spending cuts, include a cap on Conservation Reserve Program
spending, an increase in the CCC interest rate and
elimination of mandatory crop insurance.
The Center for Rural Affairs concluded in a recent study that
this type of plan " would undermine family farm agriculture
and diminish the nation's commitment to protecting natural
FAMILY FARMERS VOICE VIEWS ON BUDGET
Most family farmers are opposed to both the size of the
budget cuts and the policy goals behind these cuts. While
acknowledging the need to reduce federal government
expenditure, family farmers feel they have been
disproportionately targeted for cuts and have been excluded
from the Congressional debate over programs that affect their
Farm Aid has been in contact with family farmers who
participate in federal farm programs to get their input on
the proposed budget changes and to discuss their vision for
agricultural program reform. Here's what some of them had to
"Program changes contained in the Freedom to Farm Act and
now the budget bill represent exactly what family farmers
don't want. Family farmers are not interested in a subsidy
payment or a welfare check. Congress has failed to consult
farmers about legislation that dictates our survival and the
food needs of the nation." -- Bill Christison, corn and bean
farmer from Chillicothe, Missouri.
"I've seen a lot of farmers struggling as it is because of
poor weather -- I think the lower support prices and the
resulting lower market prices will make it even harder for
many of us to survive the next couple of years. Farmers
need a safety net -- more effective crop insurance is one
answer. As it is now, unless you have a disaster -- a total
loss of crops -- federal insurance doesn't do a thing." --
Glen Abrams, farms peanuts and cotton in Georgia
"The elimination of support payments will make it difficult
for farmers to obtain loans. Without that support price,
banks have no guarantee regarding the ability of a farmer to
repay the loan. What we really need in this country is one
farm program -- a credit program -- that allows farmers to
pay off their debt and earn a living." -- Francis Bradley,
livestock and feed grain farmer in Montgomery, Indiana.
CLINTON URGED TO VETO BUDGET BILL
Farm Aid joined with more than 268 organizations supporting
the Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture this month to urge
President Clinton to veto the budget reconciliation bill
developed by Congress. The organizations stated the
following in a November 2 letter to the President:
"At the Rural Summit held in Ames, Iowa earlier this year,
you made a public promise to Americans to protect rural
communities from harm in farm legislation, Now is the time
to act on that promise ... The budget deficit is a major
concern to all of us, but cuts should be fair and smart.
This bill includes farm program cuts that would force deep
reductions in family sized farms, while the largest farms and
agribusiness would take little or no cuts."
In addition, Farm Aid President Willie Nelson is sending a
letter to President Clinton urging him to veto the budget
bill and to force Congress to open a new dialogue with family
farmers. Willie Nelson is sending this letter on behalf of
the hundreds of family farmers who expressed their deep
concern about the direction of farm policy at the Farm Aid
Town Hall meeting in Louisville, Kentucky October 1.
President Clinton has repeatedly vowed that he will veto the
Republican budget bill over provisions that drastically cut
Medicare and education programs and environmental
regulations. Family farmers are calling on the President to
not only veto the Reconciliation bill, but also to fight
congressional attempts to cut provisions important to small
and medium-sized farmers and rural communities.
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman backed farmers' calls
November 20 by recommending to the President that he veto the
Reconciliation bill, saying it "undoes the safety net and
then ends it. As we move to balance the budget, farmers
should not receive windfall payments when market conditions
are good. They should receive assistance when in greatest
need -- when prices are low."
Once President Clinton vetoes the Budget Reconciliation Bill,
Congress would be forced to start over and write an
acceptable budget plan. An alternative budget bill, called
the "Family Farm Empowerment Act," maintains farm programs
and cuts $4.2 billion in spending by 2002 -- the spending
goal set by the Clinton Administration.
FARM BILL BATTLE EXPECTED TO CARRY INTO 1996
House Agriculture Committee Chairperson Pat Roberts announced
November 20 that his Committee will not consider language for
the 1995 Farm Bill until sometime next year.
The Budget Reconciliation Bill will set the tone for the 1995
Farm Bill debate, however it does not address all titles of
the traditional five-year legislation. Those titles of the
farm bill not included in the Budget Reconciliation language
are conservation, credit, research and trade.
Lawmakers in both houses of Congress have forwarded
legislation aimed at dramatic reform of these Farm Bill
titles. Representative Wayne Allard, for example, has
drafted "The Agriculture Regulatory Relief and Trade Act of
1995" which dictates major reform of credit, rural
development, research and trade titles.
The National Family Farm Coalition characterized Allard's
bill a disaster. "This proposal dismantles hard-fought for
credit protections for USDA and Farm Credit Service borrowers
... The Allard draft would eliminate all targeting of
operating loans for socially disadvantaged farmers," said
NFFC representative Kathy Ozer.
Most recently, Allard introduced a companion bill to address
conservation programs, calling it the "Conservation
Consolidation and Regulatory Reform Act." The bill
reportedly lowers erosion standards for land leaving the
Conservation Reserve Program, eliminates the Integrated Farm
Management Program and reduces conservation compliance
The Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group said the
"bill would turn back the clock on USDA reorganization ...
and gut conservation compliance" creating disincentives for
farmers looking to establish sustainable farm plans.
In addition to potentially disastrous farm bill program
changes, farmers' face other immediate concerns. A
Presidential veto of the budget bill and Congressional delay
of the 1995 Farm Bill will make it impossible for farmers to
create next year's crop plans. Farmers typically lay plans
and prepare budgets for spring crops beginning in January.
Without knowledge of what commodity programs will be in place
next year, it will be very difficult for farmers to begin
making their crop plans. Many family farmers are therefore
calling on Congress to immediately pass an extension of the
1990 Farm Bill through the 1996 crop year.
NFFC HARD AT WORK
The National Family Farm Coalition has been representing more
than 40 family farm groups nationwide for nine years. NFFC
is staffed in Washington D.C. to monitor federal policy
decisions and provide lawmakers with family farm input on a
daily basis. For more information about the National Family
Farm Coalition and about the farm bill proposals supported by
the nation's family farmers, contact Kathy Ozer, 110 Maryland
Avenue, NE, Suite 307, Washington, D.C. 20002. (202) 543-
5675. Fax: (202) 543-0978.
AG SECRETARY MEETS WITH ANTI-FACTORY HOG FARM MOVEMENT
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman traveled to Lincoln
Township, Missouri November 11 to meet with more than 275
members of the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment
about the spread of factory farms. Lincoln Township is a
small county in Missouri which was sued last year by Premium
Standard Farms, the fourth largest hog corporation in the
country, for enacting zoning and planning laws. During the
meeting, members of the Campaign urged Secretary Glickman to:
* Aggressively enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act, an
anti-trust law that limits concentration in the livestock
* Advocate strongly to President Clinton to veto the
Congressional Budget Reconciliation Act because it is
detrimental to family farmers and the environment.
* Redirect the mission of the Swine Research Center and
decide not to build the factory farm facilities in Ames,
* Write a letter to EPA Secretary Carol Browner supporting
the Campaign's calls for environmental action.
* Visit other states to meet with members of the Campaign
At the meeting, Secretary Glickman promised to continue
federal anti-trust investigations and agreed to have one of
his key policy aides meet with Campaign leaders in order to
work through their requests. "The Secretary coming to listen
to our concerns is a step in the right direction," said Terry
Spence, farmer and Lincoln Township spokesperson.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
DECEMBER 1-3 "1995 UPPER MIDWEST COMMUNITY SUPPORTED
AGRICULTURE CONFERENCE: HEALTHY PEOPLE, HEALTHY COMMUNITIES."
MADISON, WISCONSIN. Sponsored by the Michael Field
Agricultural Institute. For more information contact Wil
Burns (608) 256-6312.
DECEMBER 9-11 NATIONAL FAMILY FARM COALITION ANNUAL MEETING.
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA. Member organizations will meet
to plan their future work agenda. For more information
contact Jane -- , NFFC, 110 Maryland Avenue, NE, Suite 307,
Washington, D.C. 20002. (202) 543-5675. Fax: (202) 543-
DECEMBER 13 "1995 FALL AGRICULTURAL POLICY CONFERENCE:
CHANGES AND CHOICES FOR AGRICULTURE AND RURAL COMMUNITIES."
CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA. For more information contact Cheryl
Achey, (319) 398-4944. Fax: (319) 398-5611. Ag Policy
Conference, Kirkwood Community College, Washington Hall, P.O.
Box 2068, Cedar Rapids, IA 52406.
"Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture Calls on Clinton to
Veto Budget Bill Because It's Unfair to Family Farmers, Rural
Communities and the Environment," November 6, 1995. Contact
the Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, 12 N. Church
Street, Goshen, New York, 10924. (914) 294-0633. Fax: (914)
294-0632. You may also contact the Campaign for a copy of
the letter sent to President urging his veto of the budget
reconciliation bill, as well as the list of groups signed on
to the letter.
"Analysis of Selected Provisions of the House and Senate
Agriculture Budget Reconciliation Bills," Chuck Hassebrook,
Kelly O'Neill. Contact the Center for Rural Affairs, Post
Office Box 406, Walthill, NE 68067-0406., (402) 846-5428.
Fax: (402) 5420.
FARM AID ANNOUNCEMENT
FARM AID GIVES THANKS AND $600,000 FOR FAMILY FARMERS
Farm Aid awarded $587,500 to 51 family farm organizations,
hotlines and churches in 25 states. The 1995 grants will be
used to fund a variety of programs, including projects that
provide legal and financial counseling to help farmers avoid
foreclosure, help young people to get started in farming, and
foster the development of farmer-based cooperatives that
increase family farm income. Programs also include efforts
to help farmers reverse the trend toward industrial
agriculture and create sustainable rural communities. Farm
Aid plans to award additional grants in December for holiday
"We should all give thanks for the hard working family
farmers who struggle to put food on our tables at the
holidays and throughout the year," said Farm Aid executive
director Carolyn Mugar. "Family farmers are part of a unique
heritage we celebrate at Thanksgiving. Farm Aid is working
to make sure that they don't become part of our history."
We welcome comments and suggestions: contact Harry
Smith at FARM AID, (617) 354-2922. Fax: (617) 354-6992.
Email: email@example.com. We encourage the
reproduction of FARM AID NEWS. Produced by The
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) for
FARM AID. Editors: Gigi DiGiacomo and Harry Smith.
For information on other agriculture bulletins, contact
IATP: (612) 379-5980. Fax: (612) 379-5982. Email: