GMA reacts to Farm Bill passage: 'Depression-era price supports'

GMA issued the following statement by Cal Dooley, GMA president and CEO, in response to final passage of the Senate Farm Bill:

"Despite record commodity prices and farm income, the Senate today proposed to extend lavish subsidies to a handful of large commercial farms. The farm bill passed today [Dec. 14] extends depression-era price supports that help few farms, harm small farmers, raise food costs, and violate our commitments to our trading partners and the poor.

"Demand for reform has never been greater. A majority of Senators voted to deny subsidies to wealthy farmers and to limit subsidy amounts. And, nearly 40 Senators voted to replace these depression-era farm price supports with a modern system of farm revenue insurance. I applaud those Senators who voted for reform, including those Senators who voted for the Lugar-Lautenberg amendment, the Klobuchar-Brown-Durbin amendment, and the Dorgan-Grassley amendment. By voting for a true safety net and for new investments in specialty crops, conservation, energy and nutrition, Senators voting for these amendments have laid the groundwork for real reforms that are long overdue.

"There has never been a better time to reform farm and food policy. Thanks to strong foreign and domestic demand for farm products, net farm income is forecast to be $87 billion in 2007, which is $30 billion above the average for the previous 10 years and stands as a new record for farm income. As a result, average farm household income is projected to be almost $87,000 in 2007, well above the average household income of ordinary Americans. The time when family farmers depended upon the federal government for their survival is long past. Farm wealth has also reached record levels. In 2006, the average wealth of farm households was nearly $900,000.

"Nevertheless, the bill produced by the Senate Agriculture Committee – a committee dominated by Senators from the few states that collect more than half of all farm spending – and ratified today by the Senate perpetuates a system of unlimited subsidies better suited for the Dust Bowl. President Bush should reject this proposal and should demand that the House and Senate craft a safety net as modern and entrepreneurial as our farmers. We strongly oppose the Senate Farm Bill and urge the President to veto legislation that hurts farmers, raises food prices, and undermines our obligations to our trading partners and the poor."

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