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E-M:/ GEPHARDT & Growing America's Agricultural Economy (Iowa Speech excerpts)


Growing America's Agricultural Economy

September 22, 2003  

"Agricultural subsidies should be targeted at family farmers who are struggling to compete while complying with environmental standards. This would include firm eligibility rules and far lower limits on subsidy payments.

"I fought alongside Tom Harkin to bring down payment limits in the 2002 farm bill. As president, I'll work with him to bring them down even more. I'm also proud to have stood with Tom Harkin in his battle against corporate hog lots and to include funding for conservation programs in the 2002 farm bill.

"I don't need to tell you the value of targeting giant hog lot owners who are thumbing their noses at environmental standards while neighbors are holding their noses and cleaning up the mess. If corporate hog lot executives were forced to get out there and clean up their own flooded manure lagoons, maybe then we'd see some change. Wingtips and manure don't exactly mix.

"I believe large corporate hog lots should be solving their environmental problems without taxpayer subsidies or exemptions from clean air and clean water laws. It's why I voted to stop large corporate hog farms from receiving EQIP grant money to build manure lagoons and why, as president, I'll direct my Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts as they apply to large corporate hog farms. George Bush ordered a halt to EPA inspections two years ago. When I'm president, we're going to put those inspectors back to work and enforce the law again.

"The next worst thing to monopolies is agricultural servitude. Contract farmers are often forced to sign legal agreements that offer them no rights and no recourse. I intend to change that.

"Your [Iowa] Attorney General Tom Miller has a good idea that I'll take to the White House and that's a Bill of Rights for Contract Farmers. Including the right to contract review by a lawyer and an accountant, the prohibition of binding arbitration clauses, a three-day review and cancel option, first priority payment when processors go bankrupt, no contract termination out of retaliation, producer collective bargaining and - the most basic thing of all - the right to a contract written in plain English. For those who've been forced into contract farming in order to survive, I don't think any of these rights are asking too much.