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2007 Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Proposal

For this newsletter we were hoping to report on the final Senate version of the 2007 farm bill. No such luck folks – business in the Senate with the farm bill has been like one of those on-again, off-again relationships. And as far as we know, the farm bill is off until sometime next year.

However, we can provide an update on how family farms and rural communities fared in the Senate Agriculture Committee bill, key amendments we expect, and information on where we’ll need the grassroots to shake things up again once the debate resumes. (Look for coverage of livestock provisions in our Corporate Farming Notes.)

CORPORATE FARMING NOTES

In October, the Senate Agriculture Committee included, for the first time in history, a title focused on livestock market competition reforms when they moved their proposed farm bill proposal to the floor.

The Senate Committee’s livestock title included several reforms for which the Center for Rural Affairs has long advocated. The most talked about competition reform the Committee approved was the ban on meatpacker ownership of livestock for more than 14 days prior to slaughter. The Center has been at the forefront of the effort to obtain a ban on packer ownership of livestock for nearly a decade. The ban was included in what is called the en bloc amendment without debate in the committee.

Center Co-sponsor of Food and Family Farm Presidential Summit

The 2007 Food and Family Farm Presidential Summit was a day to appreciate the food that sustains us and to consider the needs of those who raise it. Held Saturday, November 10, at the Downtown Mariott in Des Moines, Iowa, the summit featured speakers throughout the day – including the Center’s own John Crabtree – punctuated by appearances from five candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination: Illinois Senator Barack Obama, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, Delaware Senator Joe Biden, and New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

What Would It Look Like if Rural America Really Mattered?

We find out more every day about how rural America does, and does not, matter in the farm bill debate. But the bonds that are forming among those that seek a better future for rural America are just as important as the outcome.

On November 14, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) announced their support for the Senate farm bill’s ban on meatpacker ownership of livestock. UFCW support brings with it the voices of 1.3 million members nationwide, including more than 250,000 workers in meatpacking and food processing.

Youth from all over the Globe Make a Difference in a Small Town

Last month I showed the amazing difference in community development that youth vitality and innovation can bring. This month we’ll look at a new approach in community and school development and see what happens when a small community embraces youth as the future.

Nebraska has what is known as the “rule of 60” for small rural schools. If the number of students in grades 9-12 falls below 60, then local and area landowners can option out of the school district and join another district, possibly with lower taxes. Nothing holds them accountable to the local school district.

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