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New Farm Bill - Opportunity for Rural Minnesota?

January 25, 2007

Congress continues work on a new farm bill, which will shape the agriculture economy and impact consumers for the next five years. Now there are calls for it to focus on rural communities and small farms. Daniel Owens with the Center for Rural Affairs says that would require a change from current policy.

"One of the ways you can do that is by limiting the corporate mega-farm subsidies that we've seen in past farm bills. That's the position widely supported among people in Minnesota and nationally. You could take those savings and put them into the programs that could really do some good in rural America."

Owens notes present programs favoring large producers have had a significant impact on Minnesota farmers and rural communities.

"When it comes to unlimited payments to mega-farms, we've certainly seen higher land prices. Right now, what we have is a policy where the government is paying to consolidate our agricultural sector. That has effects not just on agriculture, but all of rural America."

Owens says Minnesota is in good position to shape the next farm bill, with two members on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and two Representatives, including the Chairman, on the House Committee.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN