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NFU's Roger Johnson Sees Positives and Negatives of Chairwoman's Mark of Farm Bill

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 19:01:39 CDT

NFU's Roger Johnson Sees Positives and Negatives of Chairwoman's Mark of Farm Bill

Roger Johnson of the National Farmers Union has been following the developments surrounding the farm bill mark that has come out of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He says he sees positives and negatives in the progress so far.

"I think if you look at the bright side of this, having the mark released by the chair and the ranking member is a pretty strong signal there's serious effort behind this and that there's been a lot of work done behind the scenes to try and put some of the deals together to accommodate the various interests."

He says he sees two areas of disappointment with the mark so far. One deals with the area of energy which has been dramatically cut back, the other deals with crop price protection.

"You know, as far as rural America, rural development in the last two or three decades has largely been a function of what's happened with renewable energy. So that seems to be something we would want to pay attention to, to keep a focus on.

"The other area I would say we are disappointed in, and maybe it's just not possible to get it done given the political atmosphere, but we need some sort of long term protection from price collapse. Maybe a better way to put it would be protection from a long-term price collapse.

"The best that they're able to do is a sort of a five-year Olympic average of following the market down. If we get back to a period like the late 90s or early 2000s where we had seven, eight years in a row of very low commodity prices, I worry what's going to happen by not having some sort of safety net that's price based at a higher level."

Johnson said he was also surprised that there's no livestock title in the farm bill even though livestock comprises roughly half of U.S. agricultural production. He said there are several items scattered throughout the bill, however, dealing with important programs for livestock producers.


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Ron Hays talks with NFU's Roger Johnson about the Senate's progress on the 2012 farm bill.
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