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Economists talk farm bill with House ag subcommittee

The House of Representatives Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management this week heard from five university agricultural economists about the role farm economics will play in shaping the next farm bill.

Testifying before the subcommittee were Kansas State University ag economist Barry Flinchbaugh, Texas A&M University Ag and Food Policy Center director Ronald Knutson, Iowa State University Center for Agricultural and Rural Development ag economist Bruce Babcock, Michigan State University ag economist David B. Schweikhardt and Ohio State University ag marketing and policy specialist Carl Zulauf.

The economists did not recommend a simple extension of the current farm policy supported by some agriculture groups, but discussed greater potential for decoupled payments, the influence of trade talks, payment limitations and the relationship between commodity supports, and crop insurance.

"If what we want is a simple program that provides a safety net under farm income with minimal market distortion, the answer isn't rocket science -- a decoupled direct fixed payment," Flinchbaugh said. "This, I will submit, is what the Doha Round is all about, and that failure of those talks will lead to more -- rather than less -- market distortion and more -- rather than less -- need for commodity programs."

The subcommittee will continue to gather feedback from a variety of organizations and individuals involved in agricultural production throughout the remainder of the year.

The House of Representatives Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management this week heard from five university agricultural economists about the role farm economics will play in shaping the next farm bill.

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