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It's time for the preachers to cuss

Agriculture.com Staff 02/12/2007 @ 8:45am

We've all heard the saying that describes an event as being so horrible that it would make a preacher cuss. Well, anyone that farms, works, lives, loves or plans to die in rural America and who has witnessed the announcement of the Bush/Cheney administration's proposal for the 2007 Farm Bill must surely have some profane thoughts, be they preacher or layman.

It is an ugly, mean-spirited, calloused and dishonest proposal because -- IT WILL LOWER FARM INCOME. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns recently unveiled the ill-conceived plan in Tunica, Mississippi, and then went far and wide claiming that farmers recommended his plan. "Thou shalt not tell a lie" must have been edited out of the USDA bible, because the message delivered by producers in hearings across the country emphatically stated that they wanted the farm bill to resemble the 2002 bill with some improvements.

Instead of heeding those recommendations from the farm community, the secretary has laid out a cockamamie idea deceptively labeled "Revenue Assurance." This proposal doesn't totally adopt that concept but it does start down that slippery slope, perhaps it should be called, "Revenue Assurance Lite."

This sleeping horror lies dormant from one farm bill creation period to the next in the bowels of the National Corn Growers Association. Then it's regurgitated and offered as a replacement for the basic safety net type farm program the farm community desires. But, on inspection, it's just as ugly as most regurgitated waste matter. Which may explain why no farm organization representing Delta farmers, or thinking farmers anywhere, support the idea. The advocates of revenue assurance appear to be blind to the assault that farm programs are under from a range of critics, most of which don't farm or live in rural areas, yet they label farm programs as welfare.

But, we know they are food security tools that provide a service to consumers and only a minimum safety net to farmers. They are not designed to, nor do they make anyone rich. The programs also under gird the rural economy where those food, feed, fiber and now fuel crops are produced. With the renewable energy potential from farm fields gaining attention it would seem that our national policy would be moving toward a stronger farm safety net in support of this exciting new industry. So, the National Corn Growers Association, et.al, should have the courage to stand with other farm groups and defend the programs instead of caving in to folks who never plow a furrow.

In addition to attacks by newspaper editors, farm programs are assaulted by international wheeler-dealers who employ the help of loud voices that hide behind a stated concern for the environment, the hungry and/or farmers in under-developed nations. Those trying to rob rural America of the basic safety net that farm programs provide have a common denominator. Just as Secretary Johanns doesn't, they don't produce a crop and they don't live in rural areas.

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