Thanks, Bart, I think.
I'm mailing this to my reps and asking why. Suggest erveryone do the same.
>WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new program that will let farmers skirt
>restrictions on crop
> subsidies could mean millions of dollars going to as
>many as 2,600 of the nation's
> biggest producers.
> Farmers who have reached the payment limit will be
>allowed to take crop subsidies in
> certificates, instead of cash, which they can redeem
>for government-held commodities.
> The program effectively abolishes the current
>$150,000-per-farmer limit on crop
> subsidies, which already was doubled from $75,000
>last year, critics say. The subsidy
> program pays farmers the difference between the
>market price of major commodities
> and government-set minimum prices.
> "What it comes down to again is that we're going to
>subsidize some of the biggest
> farmers in the country to drive others out of
>business," said Chuck Hassebrook,
> program director of the Center for Rural Affairs in
> Among operations that stand to benefit most,
>according to Agriculture Department
> officials, is cotton giant J.G. Boswell Co., which
>controls an estimated 160,000 acres in
> California's San Joaquin Valley. At current subsidy
>rates, a cotton farm can reach the
> $150,000 payment limit with fewer than 1,000 acres.
>All major commodities would be
> eligible for the certificate program.
> Congress authorized the program last fall, and
>Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman
> said Monday that he agreed to implement it under
>pressure from lawmakers. "The
> certificate program is one that the Congress is very
>clear they want," he said.
> Glickman's advisers said he had little choice but to
>approve the program, given the
> bipartisan congressional support for it and the
>possibility that farmers facing the
> payment limit would otherwise forfeit up to a million
>bales of cotton to the government
> this year.
> USDA rules allow farmers to put crops under
>short-term federal loans and forfeit the
> commodity to the government instead of repaying the
>loan. Farmers would make a
> profit off the forfeiture _ which doesn't count
>toward the $150,000 subsidy limit --
> because the market value of the crop is less than the
>value of the loan.
> The National Cotton Council, which led lobbying for
>the certificate program, argued
> that it would provide for a more orderly marketing of
>the cotton than dumping it on the
> government, which would have sold it later, possibly
>depressing prices. The
> government also would save on storage costs.
> "From our perspective the best bet for all producers
>is to get the cotton out into the
> market," said Bill Gillon, a spokesman for the cotton
> Instead of agreeing to issue the certificates,
>Glickman should have tightened the loan
> program to make it less advantageous for farmers to
>forfeit their crops, Hassebrook
> Glickman's decision comes when he is pushing Congress
>to put more restrictions on
> government farm payments and target assistance to
>small and medium-sized aid.
> Keith Collins, USDA's chief economist, acknowledged
>that the certificate program
> would do just the opposite. "There's no doubt it's a
>concern. Here the secretary has
> been advocating a tight payment limit," he said.
> Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.
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Marcie A. Rosenzweig
Full Circle Organic Farm
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