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Corn growers could support 2002 Farm Bill extension

Agriculture.com Staff 03/06/2006 @ 1:29pm

After much debate, the National Corn Growers Association's "Corn Congress" voted Saturday in Anaheim, California, to put extending the current farm bill in its lobbying arsenal this year.

Some groups, including the South Dakota Corn Growers, had pushed for a resolution that would "apply the basic structure of the 2002 Farm Bill to the 2007 Farm Bill," based on the fact that "most of our membership like the 2002 Farm Bill."

There are some potential problems with that approach, though.

Marketing loans, and their loan deficiency payments to offset low market prices, are popular and provided some badly needed relief when cash prices crashed following Hurricane Katrina last year.

Yet, that system has been successfully challenged in cotton by a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute brought by Brazil. Some observers of trade disputes think it's just a matter of time before LDPs are either negotiated away or litigated into extinction under the WTO.

So when some of the nation's most successful corn farmers wrestled with this issue at the end of the Commodity Classic in Anaheim. here's what they came up with:

"NCGA will be involved in the development of the next farm bill and, if at an appropriate time, it is determined that extending the current farm bill is the best option, NCGA will support that extension through 2012."

One supporter of that approach, Tim Burrack of Iowa, argued, "This is perfect verbage. It doesn't rule out the current farm bill and it doesn't rule it in."

NCGA's president, Minnesota corn and hog farmer Gerald Tumbleson, said later that "It's pretty obvious that everybody likes the farm bill and it's pretty obvious that it can't exist forever."

Backers of the 2002 approach were using that as a bargaining lever with Congress to encourage legislators to maintain a strong system of price and income supports while others worried that NCGA would have little flexibility if Congress appears to be moving away from the 2002 farm bill structure. "If you say extend it, can you go to a better system?" Tumbleson asked.

Corn growers also oppose tougher payment limits on crop subsidies.

By a two-thirds majority, the Corn Congress delegates approved a resolution that "NCGA will oppose efforts to lower the payment limit or change the rules for the current and future farm bills."

After much debate, the National Corn Growers Association's "Corn Congress" voted Saturday in Anaheim, California, to put extending the current farm bill in its lobbying arsenal this year.

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