Don't Let the Farm Bill Leave You Out - Sign On!
Why should the biggest, wealthiest farmers get unlimited payments, while Congress is cutting programs to small and mid-sized farmers?
“Payment limits... for producers should be eliminated, or at a minimum not tightened any further.” -- This was one of many similar comments made at the recent farm bill field hearing, sponsored by the House Agriculture Committee, who also picked the folks who testified. They didn’t invite you or me, but you can speak up anyway! Sign on to the petition to make your voice heard, and leave your own comments to take your story to Congress.
You can make sure the farm bill represents your interests. Will you take 2 minutes to sign on below?
The 2012 Farm Bill must support the best of rural America - family farming and ranching, entrepreneurship, and vibrant communities. To that end, the next Farm Bill must include the following:
1. Limit farm payments - Cap unlimited payments. They subsidize the nation's largest farms to drive smaller operations out of business. Unlimited subsidies are the single most wasteful and counterproductive feature of current farm policy. Both farm subsidies and crop insurance premium subsidies should be subject to caps, so that payments are targeted to the small and mid-sized farmers who need them most.
2. Protect conservation programs - Conservation and good stewardship of agricultural lands should be encouraged and rewarded. The 2008 Farm Bill included several conservation programs that were steps in the right direction, and the next Farm Bill should improve and enhance these programs. The Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative are especially valuable incentives for farmers to conserve natural resources on their land. The 2012 Farm Bill should maintain strong support for both these and other conservation programs.
3. Invest in rural America - Investment in rural development has fallen by nearly one-third since 2003. Reversing this decline is critical to creating and sustaining vibrant rural communities. At minimum, the Farm Bill should fund two critical programs to support rural entrepreneurship - the Value Added Producer Grants Program and Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. The latter provides loans, training and help with business and marketing plans to enterprises with up to ten employees.
4. Support beginning farmer and ranchers - Getting started in farming can be expensive and extremely difficult for even the most motivated new farmer. The 2012 Farm Bill must seek a cross-cutting comprehensive approach to address beginning farmer and rancher needs. Among other things, it should provide funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, increase set-asides for beginning farmers and ranchers in conservation programs, and make credit easier to obtain.
By incorporating these four critical elements, the 2012 Farm Bill will support our small towns and rural communities in building a better future. It will create good jobs, and reflect the highest values of all of America.