Shape farm bill to address needs of urban, rural constituents

US - Farm-bill discussions remind us again of the importance of agriculture in our nation's policy debate. A lot of energy is being spent on the next farm bill to be discussed and debated by Congress.
calendar icon 2 July 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

It's important to review why a farm bill is discussed. Most citizens forget that the farm bill funds everyday programs such as food stamps. In most years, one city, New York City, receives more food-stamp dollars than the total federal expenditure for all Iowa farmers. Urban folks have lots of reasons to pay attention to farm-bill policy and funding discussions.

Here's another way the farm bill can make a difference: promoting avenues to enter farming. Did you know the average age of pork producers in Iowa is about 10 years younger than the rest of agriculture? That's because the hard physical labor of pig production is more easily done by young people. It's also usually cheaper to begin farming with livestock. So, if we want to encourage new, younger farmers, we should strongly consider livestock production as a partial solution.

A new twist is the added attention given to energy policy and the impact of satisfying food, feed and energy security. While all individually well-intentioned, finding a balance and satisfying all three will require careful consideration. Citizens, livestock and crop farmers, food companies, environmental groups, lenders and agri-business entities will all need patience as we proceed in the new - and exciting - era of biofuels production.

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