Farm Bill Warm-Up

Have your ears been burning out there in the Heartland? Lawmakers in the Beltway are suddenly talking a whole lot more about agriculture. Not surprisingly, we are also inside of two months away (as I write this column — as you read this, a handful of weeks) from what could be a landmark election day in November.

Of course, much of it now is meaningless posturing — attempts to demonstrate commitment to constituencies in the event anyone has felt neglected. But some of the early salvos being hurled around the Beltway regarding the impending Farm Bill debate are worthy of taking note going into the 2007 season.

As you should already know, the 2002 Farm Bill is set to expire next year. Simultaneously, the world has been putting tremendous pressure on the U.S. to eliminate government subsidies to create a better competitive balance for agriculture around the world. The lightning rod for this has been the Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Doha Round has been charged with, among many things, lowering agriculture trade barriers around the world, permitting freer trade between countries. 

So far, its biggest accomplishment has been to force countries to draw lines in the sand as to how far they are willing to negotiate, and most experts put the likelihood of a meaningful outcome in the current environment at near zero.

So what? Well, many in agriculture hope that with Doha on life support, the U.S. won’t have to make any hard decisions about subsidies, and might just reauthorize the old farm bill. For better or worse, that’s probably not in the cards.

There are a number of reasons for this. One of the biggest is the two-headed monster of the growing federal budget deficit and the ongoing (and with no end in sight) War on Terrorism. There is little taste for what the public will surely perceive as excessive government subsidies in the kind of rapid, once-over-lightly analysis our media gives these sorts of topics.

The second is the pulse of the Beltway, which according to some observers has taken a decidedly negative bend against what it perceives as greedy corporate farmers peeling away precious federal dollars from a strapped government. Unfortunately, there is some truth to the argument that undeserving growers are getting some healthy cash payouts.

The third comes directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak — Ag Secretary Mike Johanns. Earlier this year he warned agriculture that it would need to do its share to help reel in governmental spending, and to help craft farm policy that both protects U.S. ag interests and reduces the risk of WTO challenges globally. Recent speeches indicate that the impaired Doha situation will not impede reform discussions.

“At the risk of irritating some people … who might not support farm programs, let me tell you — I do,” said Johanns in a speech to the Cato Institute last month. “I have always argued … that federal investment in agriculture is wise, it’s worthwhile policy. But how we do it is enormously important. It should be done in a way that’s pro-trade, pro-growth, and fiscally responsible. That’s what’s expected of us by our farmers and ranchers and taxpayers.”

Stay tuned. It could turn into a very bumpy ride.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Legislation Stories

Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’ Of Des Moines Water Works Lawsuit
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationARA: Sonny Perdue Confirmation Delay Simply A Paperwork Snaffu
March 9, 2017
It’s been seven weeks since the White House named former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-Ga.) as the nominee for the next Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts Supporting Agriculture
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmation Of New EPA Administrator
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trending Articles
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Latest News
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market Wit…
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teach…
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Young corn plants in soil
HerbicidesBest Management Practices To Control PPO-Resistant Weed…
March 14, 2017
Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Eric SfiligojFungicide Resistance On The Horizon
March 13, 2017
For many years now, the agricultural market has struggled to keep ahead of an ever-growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According Read More
Management2017 Commodity Classic Review
March 10, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss what happened at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio. Read More
Farmer using AgriSync
ManagementMajor AgriSync Update Aims To Extend Ag Experts’ Power …
March 10, 2017
AgriSync announced a major update to its leading collaboration and service management tool for professional ag advisors and their farmer Read More
Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying …
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
BPIA logo
Crop InputsBiological Products Trade Association Changes Name, Exp…
March 9, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), formerly the BioPesticide Industry Alliance, is the new name of the rapidly growing U.S.-based Read More
BBI MagnaSpread Salford BBI
Equipment14 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2017
March 9, 2017
Application equipment manufacturers stressed flexibility and accuracy with this year’s crop of fertilizer spreaders. From AGCO’s TerraGator TG9300B and Case IH’s 810 Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationARA: Sonny Perdue Confirmation Delay Simply A Paperwork…
March 9, 2017
It’s been seven weeks since the White House named former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-Ga.) as the nominee for the next Read More