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Colorado Farmers Hope For a Boost From Next Farm Bill

January 30, 2007

The Bush Administration hopes to move farm policy to center stage this week, as the Agriculture Secretary will present proposals for the next U.S. Farm Bill tomorrow. Here in Colorado, ag watchers say the state would benefit from an increase in research funding for smaller producers, rather than continued subsidies to large-scale corporate farms. Michael Wisdom with the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group says he hopes to see an increase in development funds, which could yield new economic opportunities for Colorado farmers.

"We've got one carrot here that's throwin' 300 percent more beta carotene and that little bit of research could actually lead to an organic pharmaceutical market."

Wisdom also hopes the new farm bill includes incentives to keep second and third-generation family farmers in the business. He says more steps need to be taken to help American farmers reduce their debt and get back into the black financially.

Daniel Owens of the Center for Rural Affairs says federal farm dollars are scarce -- and strict subsidy limits are needed for the biggest producers, so smaller farms can compete on a level playing field.

"Quite frankly, unlimited subsidies to corporate farms is not something that you can say is achieving the goals of the farm bill."

Owens favors programs that involve conservation, rural development and micro-enterprise, which he says have been more efficient and successful. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns is expected to present the administration's proposals for the farm bill tomorrow.

Eric Mack/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - CO