-"Family Farmers Seize Opportunity to Communicate With Clinton,
Outline New Visions for Rural America"
- "Factory Farm Opponents March to Iowa; Farmers Rally Outside
- "Clinton Invites Farmer Input at Rural Conference"
- "Family Farmers Praise Clinton for Listening to Rural America"
- "President Outlines Goals"
- "Clinton Now Needed to Take Farm Policy Lead; Family Farmers to
FACTORY FARM OPPONENTS MARCH TO IOWA; FARMERS RALLY
Supporters of the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment
mobilized from around the country to join the Journey for Justice
from Lincoln Township, Missouri to Ames, Iowa. Participants
carrying signs, banners and American flags stopped in 10 towns
during their six-day march to Ames to exchange stories and raise
public awareness about the economic and environmental problems
associated with the expansion of corporate hog farms.
"The Journey for Justice identified a lot of local community concern,"
said Farmers Legal Action Group representative Lynn Hayes, who
joined the Journey for Justice in Story City, Iowa. "They let everyone
know that factory farms and environmental degradation are not
effective rural development tools for any town in this country."
On the Campaign's final march into Ames, Lincoln Township resident
Terry Spence announced Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman's
decision to meet with members of the Campaign in Washington, D.C.
later this month to discuss ways to halt the growth of factory farms.
"We welcome the opportunity to meet with the Secretary," Spence
said. "We want to work within the Administration to enforce anti-
trust and environmental laws, and shine the light of public scrutiny
on the abuses of corporate factory farms."
The day of the Rural Conference, more than 100 Campaign
supporters marched to Ames where they joined in the Rally for Rural
Justice. Farmers, urban consumers, environmentalists, animal
welfare advocates and others participated in the rally, organized by
the National Family Farm Coalition.
CLINTON INVITES FARMER INPUT AT RURAL CONFERENCE
President Clinton made an effort to listen to family farmers at the
National Rural Conference. Several family farm representatives were
invited to share their concerns at the Rural Conference either as
members of the 300-person audience or as panelists in one of three
For example, panelist Lois Wales, a corn and beef producer from
Dimmitt, Texas called on President Clinton "to take bold steps to stop
the decline in commodity prices or the structure of the family farm is
going to suffer."
After each panel round, questions and comments were heard from
the audience. Issues concerning farm income, rural poverty, factory
farms and beginning farmers were raised consistently by audience
members. Proposed solutions to these and other problems included
raising the loan rate, enforcing anti-trust laws, improving value-
added opportunities, and creating new research and stewardship
In response to some of the issues raised by family farm participants,
President Clinton said, "I don't believe we ought to destroy the farm
support program if we want to keep the family farm."
FAMILY FARMERS PRAISE CLINTON FOR LISTENING TO RURAL
Overall, those who attended the Conference felt the Administration
took positive steps to listen to the needs of rural America.
"I can't imagine any President in recent history who would have
been as knowledgeable as Clinton on farm policy and rural
development, let alone have arranged a national conference around
these issues." - John Hansen, Nebraska Farmers Union.
"I was impressed and encouraged by how knowledgeable Clinton
was with the issues facing farmers. My only concern is that he
seemed more willing to push a long-term value-added type of rural
development, rather than solutions to immediately boost farm
income, like higher loan rates; a minimum wage for agriculture." -
Joe Weishaar, Iowa Farm Unity.
"What made the Conference happen was that the President opened
up the discussion to the audience. A number of substantive issues
concerning minority farmers, commodity pricing and anti-trust laws
were raised by the floor ... But the real success of the Conference will
be in the how the President follows-up in the farm bill," - Ralph
Paige, Federation of Southern Cooperatives.
PRESIDENT OUTLINES GOALS
A federal farm bill proposal is not expected until later this month,
but President Clinton did release in a written report for the National
Rural Conference the following eight key principles guiding the
Administration's rural and farm policy agenda:
1. Maintain the farm economy's foundation through the
continuation of simplified commodity programs.
2. Expand foreign markets by fully funding GATT-legal export
3. Expand rural economic opportunities through the creation of
quality jobs that provide a living wage and long-term income
4. Streamline conservation programs to make them more flexible
and promote land stewardship.
5. Ensure a safe food supply through continued pursuit of a
science-based food safety system.
6. Provide a healthful diet for all Americans by working for the
preservation and improvement of food nutrition programs.
7. Market the best of American agriculture by reforming and
improving the nation's marketing programs.
8. Promote sound science for the next century by creating
opportunities for federal and private research partnership toward
"technologies that will improve productivity, solve environmental
problems, and create new opportunities."
Some of the President's eight priorities differ from solutions
proposed by rural and farm representatives. Family farm advocates
are working to ensure that their proposals for rural and farm policy
reform are included in the ongoing debate about the future of
America's agriculture agenda.
CLINTON NOW NEEDED TO TAKE FARM POLICY LEAD; FAMILY
FARMERS TO HELP
Family farm advocates will continue to work through different
channels to best provide President Clinton with the information he
needs to take leadership on a new farm agenda that reverses rural
economic decline and raises family farm income.
"The President now needs to assume leadership in the current debate
over who grows our nation's food and how, " said Nebraska Farmers
Union President John Hansen. " I hope he and Secretary Glickman
both have the courage to chart a new direction for agriculture policy,
one that allows our family farmers to grow America's economy."
The Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment meets with
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman later this month to discuss ways
to promote family-sized hog farms over factory hog operations.
Likewise, over the next few months other family farm advocates will
travel to Washington, D.C. to educate the new Congress on solutions to
the problems facing farmers, consumers and rural residents. The
Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, for example, is organizing a
series of educational briefings for lawmakers and the public June 3-
6. Later in the month, the National Farmers Union will host a fly-in
for farmers June 24-26.
"In reality, organizations like the National Family Farm Coalition have
been clamoring for reform of farm programs for many years now,"
said NFFC Executive Director Kathy Ozer. "And our proposals, such as
raising the commodity loan rate, would provide budget savings,
while protecting farm income and benefiting consumers. It's time for
a sensible Farm Bill and a new direction for America's rural
Next Edition of Farm Aid News: "Agriculture Subsidies: Who Really
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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.