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SG-W:/ Federal Farm Bill



I'm passing on a message from Environmental Defense on the need to support
a farm bill in Washington that will help smaller farms and promote
conservation and equity:


>Although we have barely caught our breath after the fight in the
>House to increase conservation funding in the Farm Bill, things are
>already heating up in the Senate. Hearings could begin as early as
>this week.
>
>On October 5, the House of Representatives approved a very
>anti-environmental, regionally inequitable Farm Bill that favors the
>very largest farms. With this bad bill in the House, the need is
>even greater to ensure that the Senate version of the Farm Bill
>places a priority on regional equity and conservation by including
>$5.4 billion a year for conservation programs that reward farmers,
>ranchers, and forest landowners who preserve open space, improve
>water quality, protect public health, and create wildlife habitat.
>Strong support from Michigan Senators is ESSENTIAL! We need them to
>be PROACTIVE in advocating for a conservation-oriented,
>regionally-equitable Farm Bill that complies with world trade
>agreements. Support for such a bill in the House was very strong--
>200 Representatives voted in support of shifting $5.4 billion a year
>into conservation programs in the House Farm Bill -- an effort led
>by Representative Dingell of Michigan and others. Ten
>Representatives from Michigan supported this effort. Despite this
>strong support, however, the House effort was narrowly defeated, so
>we NEED the Senate to get the job done.
>
>Please call or fax Senators Levin and Stabenow TODAY urging them 1)
>to sign Senator Leahy's Dear Colleague Letter on Agriculture
>Conservation (pasted in below) and 2) communicate to Senators Harkin
>and Lugar and others the vital importance for Michigan and all
>states of including in the Senate Farm Bill $5.4 billion a year for
>conservation and provisions ensuring regional. A tentative deadline
>for Senators to sign on was Tuesday, Oct. 16 but that will most
>likely be extended until at least Thursday, October 18 and perhaps
>later. PLEASE take action ASAP.
>
>The need in Michigan for increased funding for agriculture
>conservation programs is great. In FY'01 alone, Michigan had an
>unmet need for more than $40 million in USDA conservation funding,
>including more than $13 million in unmet requests from Michigan
>farmers for help in reducing runoff and protecting water quality.
>Michigan also has a cumulative backlog of more than $12 million in
>unmet farmland protection requests. And without shifting funding
>from commodity crop programs into conservation programs, we are in
>danger of violating world trade agreements on subsidies.
>
>See below for a sample letter, talking points for calls, and a copy
>of the Leahy letter.
>
>Phone and Fax Numbers:
>Sen. Levin (MI): Staffer -- Jeremy Hekhuis; DC Phone: 202-224-6221;
>DC Fax: 202-224-1388
>Sen. Stabenow (MI): Staffer -- Kim Love; DC Phone: 202-224-4822; DC
>Fax: 202-228-0325
>
>
>THANKS!!! Your help is greatly appreciated and much needed. I would
>also really appreciate it if you could let me know if you are able
>to make some calls or send a fax and any feedback from Senate
>offices you have.
>
>Suzy
>
>Suzy Friedman
>Agriculture Policy Analyst
>Environmental Defense
>1875 Connecticut Ave., NW, #1016
>Washington, DC 20009
>202-387-3500 x176 (v), 202-234-6049 (f)
>sfriedman@environmentaldefense.org
>Check out our Agriculture Reform Campaign Website at
>http://www.environmentaldefense.org/programs/Ecosystems/AgriReform.html
>For more information on the House Farm Bill, visit
>http://www.environmentaldefense.org/programs/Ecosystems/AgriReform/HR2646.html
>Talking Points for Calls to Senators
> With a House Farm Bill (HR 2646) that is anti-environmental,
>regionally inequitable, and slanted in favor of the nation's largest
>farms, it is imperative that the Senate Farm Bill that is
>conservation oriented, fair to all states, and meets the needs and
>challenges facing all farmers today and in the future.  Under the
>House Farm Bill, federal farm spending would leave almost 60 percent
>of our nation's farmers and ranchers without support, while sending
>almost half of federal agricultural payments to a mere 8 percent of
>our nation's producers.  Instead, the Senate Farm Bill must ensure
>that funds are spread more equitably to promote trade, conservation
>efforts, rural development, and environmental protection.
> Please be a leader for our state and its environment, farmers, and
>communities by signing onto Senator Leahy's Dear Colleague letter
>and urging other Senators to stand strong for increased conservation
>funding in the Farm Bill.
> Senator Leahy's letter calls for a Senate Farm Bill to include
>$750 million a year for specialty crops in the commodity title, a
>$5.4 billion conservation title, and Conservation Security Act
>payments in the commodity title that will ensure regional equity of
>payments through state allocations based on the agriculture market
>value.
>For more talking points on agriculture conservation, visit
>http://www.environmentaldefense.org/programs/Ecosystem/AgriReform/BKGDsupport.h
>tml
>For more information about Environmental Defense's efforts to reform
>agricultural practices, visit:
>http://www.environmentaldefense.org/programs/Ecosystems/AgriReform/
>Questions? Contact Suzy Friedman, Agriculture Policy Analyst and
>Organizer, at sfriedman@environmentaldefense.org
>Sample Letter
>Dear Senators Levin and Stabenow,
>I urge you to help protect the natural resources, farmland and open
>space, public health, and rural and urban communities of Michigan
>and to ensure that the Farm Bill supports all of our states'
>farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners by signing Senator Leahy's
>Dear Colleague calling for increased funding for agriculture
>conservation in the Senate Farm Bill.  With passage of a House Farm
>Bill (H.R. 2646) last week, I am very concerned about the direction
>some in Congress would take long-term agriculture policy in our
>nation.  The House Farm Bill falls far short of the laudable
>agriculture policy goals that Senators Harkin and Lugar, the Bush
>Administration, and the 200 Representatives who supported the
>Boehlert-Kind-Gilchrest-Dingell Conservation Amendment have called
>for -- a conservation-oriented and regionally-equitable Farm Bill
>that will be in compliance with world trade agreements. Shifting
>farm subsidies to conservation is vitally important to our state
>because it would make all kinds of farmers, ranchers, and forest
>landowners eligible to participate; ensure greater regional equity;
>help resolve many major environmental challenges; and make better
>use of taxpayer dollars.
>Boosting annual funding for voluntary incentive-based conservation
>programs not only would help protect the natural resources of
>Michigan, but also would contribute to farm and ranch income, help
>ease regulatory burdens, reduce water treatment costs, and ensure
>that all farmers -- including those of our state -- are eligible for
>federal assistance.
>Unless we reward farmers when they meet our environmental
>challenges, one-third of our rivers and lakes will remain polluted,
>hundreds of species will creep closer to extinction, and millions of
>acres of open space will be lost forever.
>I urge you to sign Senator Leahy's Dear Colleague letter calling for
>increased funding for agriculture conservation programs in the
>Senate Farm Bill to help the rural and urban environments,
>agricultural communities, and public health of Michigan and states
>around the country.
>Sincerely,
>*******************************************************************************
>********
>October XX, 2001
>The Honorable Tom Harkin                                The
>Honorable Richard Lugar
>Chairman                                                Ranking Member
>Senate Committee on Agriculture,                        Senate
>Committee on Agriculture,
>Nutrition, and Forestry                                 Nutrition,
>and Forestry
>United States Senate                                    United States Senate
>Washington, D.C.  20510                         Washington, D.C.  20510
>Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Lugar:
>With passage of a House Farm Bill (H.R. 2646) last week, we are
>increasingly concerned about the direction some in Congress would
>take long-term agriculture policy in our nation.  In particular, we
>believe that H.R. 2646 fell far short of the laudable agriculture
>policy goals that both of you, and the Bush Administration, have
>outlined for a national, regionally equitable Farm Bill that meets
>the needs and challenges facing all farmers today and in the future.
>This Farm Bill is our best opportunity to write a Farm Bill for all
>of our farmers, not just those who have benefited from farm policies
>of the past.
>Clearly, the Bush Administration believes H.R. 2646 missed this
>opportunity and their opposition outlined in the October 4, 2001,
>Statement of Administration Policy challenges us to do better.
>This SAP followed the Administration's recently-released report,
>"Food and Agriculture Policy -- Taking Stock for the New Century,"
>noting that the bulk of current farm spending -- spending that would
>be continued and increased in H.R. 2646 -- leaves almost 60 percent
>of our nation's farmers and ranchers without support while sending
>almost half of federal agricultural payments to a mere 8 percent of
>our nation's producers.  The Administration also made clear that
>current farm policy is hurting, not helping, our small, rural farms
>and does little to promote, or serve, the regional diversity of
>agricultural producers in our country.  We must not lock in such
>flaws for the next five years, much less the next decade, in this
>Farm Bill.
>Both of you have also made strong, public statements against the
>House Farm Bill.  In an August 12, 2001, New York Times article, you
>argued that the House Farm Bill was too narrowly focused on
>already-failed methods of agricultural support, which include
>increased subsidies to large farmers growing cotton, corn and wheat.
>Instead, you argued, Farm Bill funds should be spread more equitably
>to promote trade, conservation efforts, rural development, and
>environmental protection.  You have both pledged to promote a new
>kind of Farm Bill that is conscious of world trade issues as well as
>the increasing importance, both economic and environmental, of
>voluntary, incentive-based conservation practices on private lands.
>Given your public commitments to these 21st century agriculture
>principles, we believe your Senate Farm Bill can and will show true
>leadership in promoting a more equitable, more effective, and far
>stronger national agricultural policy for all of our nation's
>producers.  To this end, we believe the Senate Farm Bill should
>include the following:
> Specialty Crop Provisions in the Commodity Title:  A $750
>million/year cost-of-production insurance program for non-program
>crops, or specialty crops.  This program is outlined and unanimously
>agreed upon by the National Association of State Departments of
>Agriculture.  The current House Farm Bill spends almost $115 billion
>on traditional commodities and virtually nothing on the specialty
>crop sector.  We believe it is time for Congress to recognize the
>diversity of our nation's crops and promote risk-management tool for
>all producers.
> A $5.4 billion Conservation Title; A $5.4 billion conservation
>title will ensure that we return to the historical balance between
>commodity and conservation spending in previous farm bills.  We
>appreciate your strong comments against the many harmful policy
>changes adopted in H.R. 2646 and urge you to instead adopt program
>improvements that ensures a regionally equitable distribution of the
>funding to allow farmers in all regions of the country to
>participate.  For example, every state should be assured at least
>$10 million annually in conservation spending
> CSA Payments in the Commodity Title: A national Conservation
>Security Act that ensures regional equity of payments through state
>allocations based on the agriculture market value.  Payments would
>be stipulated to allocate a minimum of $10,000,000 and a maximum of
>$150,000,000 to any single state.
>
>We look forward to working with you as you continue to finalize the
>Senate Farm Bill.  We trust that your longstanding commitment to
>promoting regionally equitable agricultural policies and strong
>conservation programs will be evident in the bill you send to the
>Senate floor.  We are also looking forward to seeing your good work
>on all titles of the Farm Bill, including the rural development,
>forestry, and nutrition titles so important to our region.
>
>Thank you again for your leadership and your needed attention to
>these regional and national concerns.
>
>Sincerely,
>
>
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--


Liz Brater
Land Use Director
Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI  48104
(734) 761-3186  x121
lizb@ecocenter.org
www.ecocenter.org



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