While the Center for Rural Affairs is located in the Midwest, we do our best to keep tabs on agriculture and rural communities everywhere. For a general view of the mainstream produce industry, and how it feels about the farm bill, I recommend Tom Karst’s blog Fresh Talk. Earth-shattering stuff? No. But it is a good overview and a good place to put in the old RSS reader so one can stay up to date on the fruit and vegetable community.
A few days ago, Tom Karst wrote the following:
As the produce industry looks for sources to fund its priorities and seems to be hitting a dry hole, I wonder if the time is now to point the guns at imposing meaningful payment limitations on high income program crop farmers. There is no reason why program crop growers should be unscathed by the budget woes inflicted on specialty crop priorities. Plus, saving generated with such limits could generate real dollars to help fund f/v programs.
When I see posts like this, I certainly get a warm and fuzzy feeling. While we would like to see savings from payment limitations invested in rural development, conservation etc. and not necessarily fruit and vegetable programs, we welcome any help we can get on the subject of payment limitations. And I should say that the Center generally does not take a position on fruit and vegetable provisions, though we do like healthy people.
Building legislative coalitions to pass farm bills is the work of our elected representatives, and certainly not the responsibility of the Center for Rural Affairs. But if somebody were to ask my opinion, I would say a coalition of lawmakers representing specialty crops, pro-payment limits Midwesterners and dairy-state representatives would be tough to beat. But that’s just my two cents.
Many groups- not just the produce people- are beginning to realize that hard choices will have to be made regarding budget allocations. And there are very few places where you can go to find substantial dollars in the farm bill. One of those places is payment limitations, and I think we’ll see more and more voices added to the payment limits choir, if only to secure funding for other priorities.