Saturday, June 03, 2006

American Farmland Trust: "green payments" in place of traditional commodity support

The 2007 Farm Bill proposal from the American Farmland Trust has three pillars: (1) a safety net, emphasizing non-trade-distorting "green payments" and risk-management tools, (2) stewardship policies, including conservation programs, and (3) new markets, by which the Trust appears to mean even-handed reciprocal trade access and increasing the profile of fruit and vegetable crops that have not traditionally been program crops.

The Trust's press conference last month included bipartisan support from former agricultural secretaries Clayton Yeutter and Dan Glickman. From the Delta Farm Press coverage:
“The clock is ticking for U.S. agriculture,” said Yeutter. “Our farmers and ranchers can and should control their own destiny by taking the lead on farm policy reform. The alternative is to risk World Trade Organization (WTO) challenges that may impose reforms on us that we would prefer to avoid — like the reforms that have already occurred in cotton. Either way the stage is set for major policy changes. If we handle them skillfully and creatively we can eliminate our WTO vulnerability while still serving U.S. farmers well.”

AFT’s proposal is the “right formula for converting a potential policy train wreck into an unprecedented opportunity for a new generation of farmers and ranchers,” added Glickman. “These recommendations will recognize and reward farmers for stewardship of our nation’s resources and improve the nutrition of our citizens through expanding access to specialty crops and fresh, locally grown food. This vision will rebuild public confidence in federal agriculture spending.”