Farm Bill debate should focus on purpose

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 30, 2001

As Republicans and Democrats debate structures and guidelines for a new farm bill, farmers in Pike County are watching and waiting.

With the existing farm legislation set to expire next fall, Senate Democrats are pushing a $170 billion bill that would increase subsidies to growers. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, among others, wants to pass the legislation now. "I don’t think you can emphasize enough the urgency with which we need to address farm legislation," he has said.

But the GOP leaders, including President Bush, support are more conservative package that reduces subsidies and creates what the president has called "a safety net under food producers" without "misleading our farmers into overproducing crops that are already in oversupply."

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With Democratic leaders pushing for a vote on the Senate bill next week, a filibuster looms.

And farmers in Pike County, with a vested interest if not an overly vocal voice, must watch and wait.

Even as Pike County becomes more diverse it is economy, agriculture’s impact remains sizeable. More than $92.7 million was generated from farm and forestry income during 2000. That income came from cotton and corn, peanuts and hay, poultry and cattle. And, it impacted not only the families

who own and work the farms, but the businesses they patronize and the economy of our entire county.

We remain, in large part, dependent on our agricultural economy.

That is why, as our Congressional leaders debate the structure of a bill that will impact agriculture for the next 10 years, our local farmers are watching with a keen eye and sharp eye.

Our hope is that politics will take a back seat to the purpose, but that’s not likely in our legislative process.


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