Call to Arms

July 17, 2007

WASHINGTON (July 18, 2007)—U.S. agriculture is under siege and the farm policies on which so many depend are close to being gutted. Rural America must stand up and be heard.

That is the startling message being delivered to growers across the country by their leaders in Washington.

“An amendment or series of amendments to eliminate farm policy will likely be offered when the 2007 farm bill reaches the House floor,” the American Sugar Cane League told its members in a recent e-mail. “Everyone who depends on agriculture for their livelihood must get involved to make sure this amendment is defeated.”

So what’s got the aggies so riled up? The efforts of two little-known Congressmen who are generally associated with the extreme political right and left.

Wisconsin Democrat Ron Kind and Arizona Republican Jeff Flake have joined forces to repeal America’s existing farm policies-a move that agricultural supporters say would devastate U.S. farmers and ranchers, including dairy, sugar, and fruit and vegetable producers.

This, opponents of the Kind-Flake effort, point out would harm the country’s overall economy and threaten agricultural jobs nationwide.

A policy analysis on the Kind-Flake farm bill conducted by FarmPolicyFacts.org found:

“Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and supporters of their legislation, H.R. 2720 or “FARM21,” claim they offer ‘reforms’ to the farm safety net-but their legislation would actually gut the farm safety net by completely repealing it-much of it immediately and the rest over a short period of time.“Farmers and ranchers would not be able to survive Kind-Flake under even a modest drop in prices.

“No color brochure can remake the Kind-Flake legislation into something positive for this nation’s farmers and ranchers-no matter what State they are from, what size they are, or what commodity they produce. The equity this legislation offers the nation’s farmers and ranchers is an equal share in nothing. And, as ironic as it is sad, the first exodus under a Kind-Flake Farm Bill would be small and beginning farmers and ranchers in whose name, if not interest, ‘reform’ is being advanced.”

So what can farmers do to stop this onslaught?

The National Cotton Council has asked its members to “call your Members of Congress or their Ag Legislative Assistants and urge opposition to the Kind amendment.” Similar alerts have been sent by other commodity groups to farmers across the country.

And producers are also being directed to an online petition urging Congress to “soundly reject any legislation that would destroy current farm policies and/or raid money budgeted for farmers and ranchers.”

The farm bill is currently scheduled for House floor action on July 26.