Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Senate Farm Bill

Friedman School alum Aimee Witteman from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition writes at Gristmill that one needn't tar all Farm Bill programs with the same brush. She speaks up for the Sodsaver proposal, which protects grassland, and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which subsidizes sustainable conservation practices but which has been funded at only a fraction of its authorized levels since the program was created in 2002.

Attractive and politically astute reform proposals would steer clear of fatal cuts to the farm programs across the board, but instead use payment caps and income limits to establish sensible and substantial reductions (say, 20-40%?) in the row crop subsidies, with the savings split evenly between deficit reduction and new funding for nutrition programs and the types of conservation programs Aimee recommends.

The Blog for Rural America from the Center for Rural Affairs tries hard to maintain an upbeat attitude on the Farm Bill overall, but comes down very hard on Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), who crosses both party and regional lines to back Southern Republicans in their efforts to pressure committee chair Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) to maintain the status quo and resist stronger reform proposals.
As my colleague John Crabtree pointed out recently, “Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, thinks it is better for his state to work with Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, to defeat the ideas of Tom Harkin, the chair of the committee from Iowa and a member of his own party. Iowa is practically neighbors with North Dakota, for God’s sake. What the hell is wrong with him?”
Perhaps reform-minded, nutrition-minded, conservation-minded, and deficit-reduction-minded residents of North Dakota should make their views heard.

The Senate committee deliberations will be webcast today.


Aliza said...

yet somehow during opening statements this morning Conrad claimed he would have wanted MORE reform...

Matthew Corgan said...

I believe sustainable agriculture is an oxymoron because how can you sustain a population that is growing exponentially.

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Matthew Corgan