Rebecca Colnar Montana Farm Bureau American
Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman has outlined key provisions of the organization’s 2007 Farm Bill proposal before the Senate Agriculture Committee. During testimony, Stallman highlighted the fact that the basic structure of the current farm bill has “worked and worked well, not only for farmers and ranchers, but also for the environment and consumers.” Stallman emphasized the need to keep in place each leg of the so-called three-legged stool of support programs that serve as the economic safety net for America’s farmers. Stallman said the program offers farmers support when needed most and marketing loan payments that provide economic freedom to better market their crops. Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Executive Vice President Jake Cummins echoed Stallman’s comments. “We believe that the basic structure of 2002 Farm Bill should not be altered. The current Farm Bill isn’t broken.” Many people don’t realize that Farm Bill dollars have a real impact on food costs. “U.S. consumers spend less than 11 percent of their disposable income on the world’s most nutritious, safest and highestquality food supply,” says Cummins. “That’s less than any other country in the world. This translates to only $23 per American per year to fund the Farm Bill. I’d say our consumers are getting great value for their money.” In addition, the Farm Bill gives producers the flexibility to try new crops, including those for biofuels. The Farm Bill includes the production of cellulosic ethanol feedstock on Conservation Reserve Program acres as long as production practices minimize conservation. It also allow for producers to provide more conservation farming and ranching techniques on their land. Cummins pointed out that although many times those skeptical of the Farm Bill call it a “hand-out” from the government, 70 percent of Farm Bill funding goes to nutrition programs, such as the School Lunch F&V Purchases, Food Stamp Program and Senior Farmers’ Market, and is not spent on production agriculture. “Only 30 cents out of every Farm Bill dollar actually goes to a farmer or rancher,” explains Cummins. The Montana Farm Bureau is the state’s largest agriculture organization representing over 12,000+ member families. Farm Bureau is the voice of agricultural producers at all levels.