House Agriculture Committee members visited Nebraska City, Neb., and Stockton, Calif., to hear producer reviews of the 2002 Farm Bill. Witnesses spoke about a variety of farm policy issues including specialty crops, commodity programs, the farm economy, renewable energy, rural development, and conservation, export markets, planting prohibition and crop insurance.
"World Trade Organization negotiations hang over the consideration of a new farm bill and there is considerable concern as to how quickly a new farm bill can be written while these WTO concerns are out there. I think we need to go ahead with the farm bill and try to shape the WTO negotiations as best we can rather than be in a reactive mode," says Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., adds that agricultural entrepreneurship, ag-based renewable energy production and creative conservation provide three emerging opportunities that will help shape agriculture and federal farm policy for years to come. "Our rural landscapes are ripe with entrepreneurial opportunity. Farm policy should recognize this dynamism and its potential to strengthen farm families, rural communities, and the preservation of resources," he says.
In California, the first panel favored extending the current farm bill while several members of the second panel advocated examining methods other than commodity programs to support the agriculture sector.
"We heard a lot of common themes, about expanding funding and access for EQIP, opening markets for our products and providing more support for research," says Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., adding that he looks forward to working together and "crafting a balanced farm bill in 2007 that addresses the needs of all of agriculture."
At least 100 members of the community attended the Nebraska hearing including local producers, agribusiness leaders, and agriculture officials. Committee members included: Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Frank Lucas, R-Okla, Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Tom Osborne, R-Neb., Steve King, R-Iowa, Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, John "Joe" Schwarz, R-Mich., Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., Ranking Minority Member Peterson, D-Minn., Stephanie Herseth, D-S.D., John Salazar, D-Col., and Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn.
At least 130 members of the community attended the California hearing including local producers, agribusiness leaders, and California Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura along with other agriculture officials. Committee members included: Goodlatte, Richard Pombo, R-Calif., Lucas, Moran, King, Neugebauer, Schwarz, Peterson, Cardoza, Salazar, and Davis.
Testimony from the witnesses is available on the Committee Web site: http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/index.html. The full transcript will be available on the website in four to six weeks.
To receive up-to-date schedule and news information from the Committee throughout the farm bill hearing process, visit their Web site to sign up for e-mail updates: http://agriculture.house.gov/Eupdates/updates.html.