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How it All Went Down

As we’ve mentioned many times, the fight over payment limitations usually breaks down by region- which actually means by crop. There are five main program crops- corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and rice. Cotton and rice receive the highest per-acre payments by far, and are primarily planted in the South (plus California). Because of those high per-acre payments (over $200 for cotton and rice vs.

Crisis in Rural America

There is a crisis in rural America. There were 350,000 farmers under the age of 35 in 1982; today there are fewer than 70,000 (only 8% of all farmers).

Cracks in the Facade

A mere three weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed a farm bill that it attempted to portray as true reform. It wasn’t, and now that a growing chorus of voices are condemning the bill, cracks are appearing in the façade of House farm bill enthusiasm. And that only bodes well for family farms and rural communities when the Senate takes up the farm bill next month.

Promoting Local Ownership

We’d like to direct our attention to a non-farm bill issue for a moment. As everyone knows, ethanol and renewable energy have dramatically reshaped agriculture markets and is in the process of reshaping the rural landscape, and not always for the better. But no matter what one thinks about ethanol, the sheer amount of money invested in the sector means it is here to stay for some time.

Moving on Up- To the Senate Side

And after a brief break, we move onto the Senate side of the farm bill. There is a general consensus that achieving serious reform of the farm bill will be much easier in the Senate than the House. Being general skeptics, we have our doubts, especially when it comes to the always-important issue of payment limits. While Senate Ag Committee chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) has been consistently in favor of substantially revamping farm programs and strengthening many different titles of the farm bill- usually those favored by “reformers”- t

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