Thursday, May 15, 2008

President Frank Priestley's Farm Bill Editorial

Farm Bill Moving Forward - Finally

With any piece of legislation that runs 1,500 to 2,000 pages in length, there’s going to be some bad with the good. The farm bill package, passed by Congress this week, is no exception.

Like making sausage, everything in there isn’t mouth-watering, but the end product turned out politically palatable. At least that’s what 318 House members and 81 U.S. Senators thought.

Idaho’s entire congressional delegation supported the measure, which garnered enough support to override the veto threatened by President Bush. They showed commendable political courage in supporting this legislation, and agriculture thanks them for providing a basic, no frills safety net for farmers and ranchers that also increases support for hungry Americans and the environment.

The three-legged safety net of direct payments, marketing loans and counter-cyclical programs provides U.S. agriculture an essential level of financial security at a time when markets are volatile and expenses such as fertilizer and fuel are shooting through the roof.

Idaho Congressman Bill Sali called the bill “far from perfect,” but wisely recognized the importance of a safe, domestic food supply. “It is important that we create a sensible farm policy so that we will never have a day when we speak of America’s reliance on foreign food the way we speak of America’s reliance on foreign oil.”

A high point of the legislation mentioned by Sali is the inclusion of dehydrated potatoes in the Women Infant Children (WIC) program. This measure is expected to increase demand for Idaho potatoes.

Mike Simpson, Idaho’s other member of the U.S. House of Representatives, also noted that as with any initiative as large as the Farm Bill, there are good and bad provisions. Overall, however, it’s a good bill that “will help nurture a stable farm economy for our nation’s rural communities.”

Senator Mike Crapo’s hard work is also reflected in this farm bill with language that provides incentives for landowners to help perpetuate endangered species found on private property. Under the current Endangered Species Act, land uses are strictly regulated when an endangered species is found on private land. This often results in a “taking” of that land. The new language makes landowners partners in a conservation process.

“The breadth and depth of this legislation reaches into so many people’s lives that everyone in America – not just those involved in farm country – everyone in America should be paying attention to this legislation and should be glad we’ve been able to find that agreement. . .” Crapo said.

This farm bill is good, solid legislation for American agriculture, consumers and the environment. IFBF salutes our congressional delegation for having the courage and foresight to vote in favor.

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