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E-M:/ Farm Bill and Michigan's Senators



From: "MLUI" <replylist@mlui.org>
To: <ajs@sagady.com>
Subject: Please help us make farming history!


Dear friend of farming,

We try not to bother you with extra emails unless it?s really important?and, believe me, this one really is important!

In fact, you can help change the course of food and farm history by responding. We?re asking you to make a phone call, send a fax, or shoot an email to Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin sometime in the next few hours?if at all possible by sometime tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

Here?s why: Senators Stabenow and Levin will vote as early as tomorrow morning on whether to put a $250,000 lid on the amount of subsidy that any one farm can receive in a year from U.S. taxpayers.

Calls from Michigan residents now will help ensure that our senators cast decisive votes in favor of this important payment limitation, which would: 1) Put some fairness into farm subsidies and 2) free up an estimated $1 billion for programs that help beginning farmers build their businesses and support conservation, nutritional education, rural development, and anti-hunger efforts.

These programs are especially important in Michigan, where smaller farms are building new opportunities to sell their fresh, local foods to local markets. Those growers need help getting into those markets, and communities need the healthier food options those growers offer. So amending the bill will help both our farms and our communities.

The subsidy limitation comes before Senators Stabenow and Levin on the Senate floor tomorrow or Wednesday; it?s a bipartisan amendment to the Farm Bill from Senator Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Putting a reasonable $250,000 cap on subsidies to individual farms will help many good things happen in Michigan?from putting more nutritious food in school cafeterias to generating much more local business for farms, to making sure more farmers hold onto their land and protect it from sprawling development and the air and water pollution sprawl causes.

So, please pick up the phone and call our senators now. Your voice really does count.

Senator Debbie Stabenow Phone: 202-224-4822. Fax: 202-228-0325. Email from Web: www.stabenow.senate.gov

Senator Carl Levin Phone: 202-224-6221. Fax: (202)224-1388. Email from Web site: www.levin.senate.gov

There?s more information about the Dorgan Grassley amendment listed below.

We also invite you to enjoy a fine read full of great information?famed author Michael Pollan?s opinion piece from Sunday?s New York Times, which offers a big-picture look at this historic Farm Bill moment.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/opinion/04pollan.html?pagewanted=1&ref=opinion

Thanks so much for checking this out and, if at all possible, corresponding with Senators Stabenow and Levin. Please tell them to support the Dorgan-Grassley Farm Program Payment Limitation Reform Amendment.

Many people are working hard to change how America farms, and the Institute?s Entrepreneurial Agriculture Program is a leader in that effort in Michigan. Passing this cap would provide a big and important boost to our ongoing campaign to build rural prosperity, protect our land, and make our communities healthier.

Thanks for supporting our work with your message to our senators!

Patty Cantrell, Director
Entrepreneurial Agriculture Project
Michigan Land Use Institute
231-941-6584 x24

Now here?s precise information on the Dorgan-Grassley Farm Program Payment Limitation Reform Amendment. It would:

Limit annual per-farm commodity subsidy payments to $250,000. The amendment would establish effective caps of $40,000 on direct (fixed) payments, $60,000 on counter cyclical (and crop revenue) payments, and $150,000 on loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains, including gains on generic certificates and forfeited commodities. The combined limit would be $250,000. All payments would count toward an individual?s limit, whether received directly or through a corporation or other type of entity. All payments to all beneficial interests in an entity would be subject to payment limitations, making it far more difficult to create "paper" farms for the purposes of exceeding the limits.

Ensure that payments flow to working farmers. Current law attempts to target payments to working farmers, but fails miserably in doing so. The amendment improves the "measurable standard" by which USDA determines who should and should not receive farm payments. It requires that management be personally provided on a regular, substantial, and continuous basis through direct supervision and direction of farming activities and labor and on-site services. The combined labor and management standard is 1,000 hours annually or 50% of the commensurate share of the required labor and management. Landowners who share rent land to an actively-engaged producer remain exempt from the "actively engaged" rules provided their payments are commensurate to their risk in the crop produced.

Re-invest in high priority programs. Savings from the amendment are re-invested in programs to support minority and beginning farmers, rural economic development, conservation, and nutrition and anti-hunger efforts. These programs received no funding or insufficient funding in the Farm Bill just reported by the Senate Agriculture Committee to the floor of the Senate for a final vote.

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