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Confronting Five Fundamental Fallacies of Farm and Rural Policy

The farm bill is entering a critical phase, with heightened risk of falling prey to the five fundamental fallacies of farm and rural policy. To pass legislation that renews hope and opportunity in rural America, we must confront those fallacies.

Fallacy #1: The best farm bill provides the most money for farm programs, irrespective of other priorities.

Family farmers would be better off with modest, well targeted payments than with bigger payments and no limits. We need farm programs, but we also need to invest in the future of our communities through small business development, beginning farmer programs, and value added agriculture initiatives.

Rural Poverty on the Rise-Will the Farm Bill Respond?

In August the U.S. Census Bureau released new data from the American Community Survey showing that poverty in rural areas, particularly child poverty, continues to be a major societal problem.

From the 2000 Census to 2006 (the year of the recently released Census Bureau data), the overall non-metropolitan poverty rate increased from 13.4 percent to 15.2 percent (a 13 percent increase). Meanwhile, metropolitan poverty rates also increased, but at a slower rate (and have declined since 2003).

Congress Hears from Constituents on Farm Bill

In August, while Congress was on a month-long recess, we didn’t give members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committee much of a break. We mounted an effort to encourage their constituents to turn out to their elected officials’ public events.

When they returned to Washington, D.C. on September 1, we didn’t give them a break either. Mike Korth and Kevin Raun, farmers from Nebraska, joined us for meetings on the Hill to talk about the farm bill.

Nebraska Hearings on Initiative 300

States can still place tough restrictions on corporate farming as long as they don’t discriminate against farmers from other states.

That was the Center’s message to Nebraska legislators at a recent hearing on corporate farming. Federal courts have struck down corporate farm laws in Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Now the North Dakota law is under attack.

CORPORATE FARMING NOTES

As reported in Alan Guebert’s Farm and Food File, the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended earlier this year that the EPA recover nearly $25.2 million of the $25.4 million granted to America’s Clean Water Foundation in three federal grants between 1998 and 2003. The grants were awarded “to perform environmental risk assessments at agricultural facilities,” according to documents on the EPA Office of Inspector General’s website.

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