Congress comes to Troy

Published 10:47 pm Monday, May 17, 2010

Six members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee held a congressional hearing in Troy Saturday in efforts to draft the 2012 Farm Bill.

As the sixth of eight total in the country, this was the first time in 14 years a hearing has been held in Alabama and possibly the only one to be held in Troy in history, said Rep. Bobby Bright D-Montgomery.

“Agriculture is probably the single largest industry in Alabama, and what’s in this bill is programs that the federal government will support helping farmers be more successful with their Ag industry,” Bright said.

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Bright said the bill addresses farming but also fuel and forestry, handling things like setting environmental standards for fertilizing, pricing and tax incentives for farmers.

“If you are in any of those areas in Alabama, the farm bill will have a significant impact on your profitability,” he said.

Nine farmers from the southeast were invited to be witnesses to congressional members about what they’d like to see in the farm bill. Among those was Brundidge’s Carl Sanders, a peanut, corn, cotton and cattle producer in Coffee County.

In his testimony, Sanders said the primary goal for his organization, the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, is to obtain a legitimate safety net for growers.

“We do not believe the current $355 per ton marketing loan is sufficient to be a real safety net for producers,” he said.

Bright agreed.

“Farmers are in desperate need to have backup when they have a crop failure, and they need reasonable prices for their work product,” Bright said.

Bright said the prices of peanuts and crop insurance, in addition to increases in fuel and fertilizer costs were other big issues he heard farmers were facing.

And, while he hasn’t attended all of the hearings himself, he said of the ones he has the problems seem the same across the board.

Congressman in attendance included the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson and ranking minority member Bob Goodlatte.

“Having those two guys alone in our district was a major undertaking,” Bright said.

Bright said it will be another year before the bill is redrafted, but he said it’s imperative Congress begin making notes now.

Other farmers and farming specialists who testified were: Andy Bell, Tallassee; Ed Esposito, Newville; Joe Mencer, Lake Village, Ark.; David Waide, Jackson, Miss.; Lamar Dewberry, Lineville; Doug Gibbs, Ranburne; Steven Taylor, Auburn; and Ricky Wiggins, Andalusia.