National Farm Bill of utmost importance

US - For those members of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery who did not already know it, Saturday’s annual meeting began with good news – Vermont Governor Jim Douglas had signed an extension of the 2006 Milk Income Loss Contract program earlier in the week, providing an extra $3 million for farmers across the state.
calendar icon 27 February 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
The extension includes an interim dairy assistance plan, through which producers will receive a single payment made by the end of March, based on January and February milk production.

But it was much-needed national legislation that was on the minds of many of the 500 or so co-op members in attendance, a 2007 Farm Bill to help right the ship for those who struggled through a disastrous year of dairy farming in 2006.

Although few specifics were made available as to when legislation might see the light of day, most of dozen or so speakers during the meeting assured the crowd that help was indeed on the horizon.

Bob Gray, executive director of the Council of Northeast Farmers Cooperatives, said current lawmakers – unlike their predecessors – fully understand the importance of agriculture across the nation. He hinted that the new year might bring not only a new Farm Bill, but a disaster relief package as well.

“I think the 109th Congress, quite frankly, was a disgrace,” he said. “The leadership in the last session did not get much done – they punted everything over into 2007. One thing that is important that we want to get passed in the next month is a disaster relief package. What this will do is provide money for crop losses. Not loans, but direct payments for crop losses during the 2006 crop year. We have estimates of more than $50 million. That is something we are working on.”

Congress should also buck recent trends for farm bills, he said.

“The last few farm bills have gone into the next year,” he said. “Nineteen-ninety five was not signed until 1996, and 2001 was not signed until 2002. I hope and I think that the 2007 farm bill will get done this year.

“Congress will start hearings on it next month. Later this spring I think we will see consideration of it. The plan is to get it completed by this fall. My prediction for 2007 is that we will get the farm bill done.”

U.S. House Representative Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont, said there is a growing expectation across the country and something should be done to help farmers.

“Dairy, of course, is what our major farm commodity is here in Vermont,” he said. “But in other regions of the country, it may be vegetables, or it may be fruits. Whatever it is, there is a growing awareness across this country that we have to have sustainable and local agriculture. That is not going to happen unless we have a farm bill that has embedded in it the principle of local and sustainable agriculture.”

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.