The preliminary results of the FARM AID Survey of Reader
Suggestions are in. Eighteen percent of Farm Aid News readers sent
back their surveys before January 1. Overall, readers said issues
they remain most concerned about include:
- Farm policy and the 1995 Farm Bill;
- Sustainable agriculture and conservation;
- Rural development: direct marketing, producer cooperatives and
- Factory and contract farming; and
- Trade policy: monitoring the General Agreement on Tariffs and
Trade and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
A number of readers also mentioned as important, issues like
organic certification, biotechnology, food safety and minority, women
and young farmers.
Now entering our tenth year, FARM AID will continue working
directly with farm, environmental and consumer groups to closely
monitor how these and other issues affect family farmers over the
next year amidst changes in Congress and in the marketplace. We
urge those who have not yet returned your surveys to do so. Farm
Aid would like to hear from all of you about the issues your
organization feels are critical to the future of family farm agriculture.
CALENDAR OF LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS, ORGANIZING EVENTS,
Following is a brief spring calendar outlining some of the upcoming
legislative and rural events that will most likely shape family
farmers' and agriculture groups' decisions throughout 1995 and in
the years to come.
1st USDA field offices begin to close. Under the USDA
reorganization effort, more than 1,000 field offices will close. The
USDA began closing designated offices January 1 and will continue to
do so throughout the next three years. A closing schedule has not
yet been prepared, but initial closings are being guided by lease
expirations and employee retirement plans says the former Farmers
World Trade Organization replaces GATT. As agreed to in the
Uruguay Round, this new international body replaces the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The WTO will administer the
Uruguay Round and provide a forum for all future negotiations. The
Uruguay Round could limit opportunities for family-supported
agriculture production and consumers demanding sound safe food
On the farm. Families begin reviewing their farming budget
and filing for operating loans to cover spring planting costs, such as
seed, new equipment parts, fertilizer, water supplies and labor.
Input costs have risen on average 8 percent over the past four
years, according to the USDA.
13-14 Working Group on Hog Concentration in Kansas City,
MO. Groups from throughout the Midwest, Southeast and Plains
regions will gather to develop national and state strategies to protect
small producers against industry concentration. The number of U.S.
hog operations declined 7 percent last year, according to the latest
USDA hog report. Two percent of the nation's producers now hold
37 percent of the industry's hog inventory. Contact the Land
Stewardship Project for more information (612) 823-5221.
Mid Jan. Senate Agriculture Committee holds Confirmation Hearings
for USDA Secretary nominee Dan Glickman. The new Senate
Agriculture Committee Chair Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) will preside
over the hearings which he says will serve as "a warm up to the
1995 Farm Bill debate." Note: as of January 10th, the hearing date
had not yet been set, but is expected sometime near the 15th.
Contact Senator Lugar's office for more information: (202) 224-4814.
19 House vote on Balanced Budget Amendment.
GOP members of Congress are proposing a Constitutional amendment
requiring a balanced budget and legislation to provide the President
with a line item veto. The proposal enables supporters to oppose
deficits in theory but does not require them to identify offsetting
cuts since the implementation date is postponed seven years and
dependent on state ratification. Contact the National Family Farm
Coalition for more information: (202) 543-5675.
25-28 Ecological Farming Conference in Pacific Grove, CA. This
conference brings together farmers to discuss issues concerning
sustainable and organic farming. Fifty-six workshops have been
planned. Guest speakers include former Texas Commissioner of
Agriculture Jim Hightower. For more information contact the
Committee for Sustainable Agriculture (408) 761-3213.
27-29 Trinational Agriculture Exchange in Lincoln, NE.
Participants from Canada, Mexico and the United States will share
their views on key issues confronting farmers in their countries and
strategize on how international cooperation can strengthen farmers'
efforts across borders. For more information contact the Nebraska
Farmers Union (402) 476-8815 or the Institute for Agriculture and
Trade Policy (612) 379-5980.
Senator Lugar says he will begin Senate Agriculture Committee
hearings on the 1995 Farm Bill in February. He has developed a
nine-page list of questions to guide the hearings. For a copy of the
questions contact the National Family Farm Coalition (202) 543-5675.
2-4 American Corn Growers Association Annual Convention in St.
Louis, MO. For more information call (202) 835-0330.
3-5 Prairiefire Rural Women's Conference: Ten Year Anniversary in
Des Moines, IA. Prairiefire will focus on women's roles on the
farm and in the movement to preserve family operations. A recent
poll of Iowa farm families shows that 75 percent of farmwomen
almost always maintain the family's business records, 60 percent
work off-farm full and part-time jobs to help support their family,
and 60 percent perform field work while caring for their children
and performing other farm chores. For conference information call
Prairiefire Rural Action (515) 244-5671.
6 Deadline for White House Office of Management and Budget FY
1996 budget proposal. President Clinton must submit budget
proposals to Congress by this date. Congress will consider the
proposals and make changes against the baseline before sending
them back to Clinton for approval in October. Agriculture spending is
expected to be cut by at least $10 billion over the next five years.
These cuts will largely dictate the 1995 Farm Bill agenda.
10-11 Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group meeting
in Woodstock, IL. MSAWG members will meet to fine-tune
policy proposals aimed at developing local and regionalized
agricultural systems that provide healthy food and fiber in sufficient
quantities through sustainable production techniques. For more
information about MSAWG contact Ferd Hoefner, (202) 547-5754.
24-25 Farmers for the Next Century Conference in Columbia,
MO. The conference will focus on obstacles beginning farmers
and ranchers face when trying to enter into farming. Fewer than
115,000 of the nation's 2 million farmers were under the age of 35 in
1987. The most recent Census of Agriculture shows that America is
continuing to lose farmers at an alarming rate, with few young,
beginning farmers stepping in to replace them. For more
information contact Cathy Erickson at the Center for Rural Affairs,
28 Crop insurance filing deadline for cotton, sugar and some grain
crops. In general, farmers who grow cotton, sugar beets, corn and
soybeans must file for federal catastrophic insurance by this date.
Under the new federal crop insurance program farmers must
purchase the insurance to become eligible for other federal program
support. A $50 premium insures all of individual farmers' planted
acreage. Coverage begins once farmer has seeded fields and has
filed acreage plantings with his/her local Consolidated Farm Services
Agency - formerly the ASCS. For more i specific filing deadlines
contact your local CFSA office.
Farm bill hearings begin in House; Appropriations hearings in House
and Senate. Please note, the National Family Farm Coalition, which is
monitoring the new Congress' agenda, will make available the
Senate's legislative schedule once set.
5-8 National Farmers Union Annual Convention in Milwaukee, WI.
For more information call (202) 554-1600.
15 Crop insurance filing deadline for most grain crops. Farmers
who produce crops like spring wheat, durum and oats will have until
the middle of March to file their disaster insurance. State
Consolidated Farm Service Agencies are urging farmers to file early
as the program is new and USDA employees need extra time to file
the forms and gather crop history information from farmers.
Next edition of Farm Aid News: Farmers' Economic Outlook for 1995.
We welcome comments and suggestions: contact Harry Smith at
FARM AID, (617) 354-2922. 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.