Although House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., says there is little support in the House for the reformist alternative farm bill proposed by Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., close to 80 farm groups were concerned enough to send a letter to Congress opposing the bill.
Scott Faber, who manages ED's Healthy Farms, Healthy Food Campaign and supports the Kind-Flake bill, explains that it "would replace current subsidies with the system of risk management accounts that would cover shallow losses not covered by crop or revenue insurance."
While commodity groups - some of whom signed the letter of opposition - say the Kind-Flake bill would strip farm supports and could put many farmers out of business if prices drop, Faber says farmers are selling themselves short.
"Every measure of farmer wealth - farm household income, net farm income, debt-to-equity ratios - are off the charts. Most commercial farmers are doing much better than the average American, and the credit for this success belongs to our farmers, not to depression-era subsidies."
Text of the letter is as follows:
"Dear Members of Congress:
As the House of Representatives considers the 2007 farm bill later this week, we the undersigned - representing millions of American farmers, ranchers, agricultural businesses and lenders from across the United States - ask that you reject outright any amendments that would weaken the farm safety net provided under House Agriculture Committee Chairman Peterson's mark. In particular, we ask you reject any amendments proposed by Representatives Kind and Flake or other amendments that represent their approach to farm policy or their proposal.
The Kind-Flake farm bill proposal - mistakenly being marketed as "reform" when it is nothing more than "repeal" - would dismantle the farm safety net and put U.S. farmers and ranchers in an unfair competition against heavily subsidized foreign producers. Virtually all of our farmers and ranchers - including those raising fruit, peanuts, vegetables, dairy, soybeans, sugar,corn, cotton, wheat, rice, other grains, livestock, and many others - would be financially harmed by even the most modest price drops if these proposals became law.
Kind-Flake would also hurt crop insurance at a time when Congress is trying to bolster crop loss protection. Moreover, Kind-Flake undermines farmers' ability to promote and use conservation methods that protect our water, air, soil, and wildlife.
Sadly, the Kind-Flake scheme ignores the unparalleled success of the 2002 farm bill, which has saved American taxpayers $25 billion and ensures that all Americans continue to enjoy the world's safest and most affordable food supply. This proposal also fails to recognize that U.S. agriculture is an economic driver, employing 20% of the nation's workforce and contributing $3.5 trillion to the nation's economy annually - supportive policies should not be weakened.
The Kind-Flake proposal - in any form - does not represent American farmers or the American citizens we serve every day, and we respectfully urge all Members of Congress to reject it."