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Midwest Delegation Weighs In On Ag Policy

December 4, 2006

Wabasso, MN - A group of Midwestern farmers and farm advocates is back home this morning after a trip to Washington, D.C. to discuss farm policy. Southwest Minnesota farmer Paul Sobocinski is with the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment; he says discussion centered on the new Farm Bill being drafted in Congress and how it will affect consumers, the rural economy, and states' ability to attract new farmers to the profession.

"Starting (new farmers) out as stewards of the land is just a good use of taxpayers dollars. It's a growing concern and demand by a public that's more conscious about the food that they eat. There's an increasing demand for organic food and food that's raised sustainably."

According to Sobocinski, delegation members talked with top Congressional aides about their priorities.

"One was further development to expand the Conservation Security Program. The second was to support new farm initiatives that support beginning farmers and also community-based food systems and local-regional markets. The third piece is to work at fundamental commodity reform to the current Farm Bill."

He says the farmers' delegation (from Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois) included representatives of Midwest livestock and grain producers, organic farmers and advocates for beginning farmers. The group talked with representatives for incoming House Agriculture Chairman Colin Peterson of Minnesota and the next Senate Agriculture Chair, Tom Harkin of Iowa.

Sobocinski says they were told that Midwestern priorities will be high on the agenda in the next Congress. The new chairs of the 110th Congress will be sworn in on January 3.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN