As Congress works toward a farm bill that will likely drag into early next year, the Mississippi Farm Bureau says farmers need policy in place in order to make financing, cropping and marketing decisions for the upcoming year.
Derrick Surrette, public policy director for the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, says the organization is "far from being able to determine the final outcome of the 2007 farm bill and our position on the policies in the final version."
While acknowledging the reform efforts in the Senate Agriculture Committee bill - elimination of the three-entity rule, a cap on commodity program benefits and a reduction in the income means test for program eligibility - Surrette expresses concern about a reduction of funding for the commodity title.
"Commodity spending has been reduced by more than 50% since 2002, while most of the other titles of the farm bill have been increased," Surrette says. "It is important that we maintain the basic structure of the 2002 farm bill, including the three-legged stool of non-recourse marketings loans, direct payments and counter-cylical payments. The commodity title should not be reduced in order to increase funding for other priorities such as conservation, nutrition and rural development.
"If it's not broke, don't fix it," Surrette says. "The 2002 farm bill has worked well for the last five years. Farm Bureau supports extending the concepts of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 into the next farm bill."