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South Dakota Farm Leader Worried Farm Bill Missing Key Component

June 20, 2007

Huron, SD - The House Agriculture Subcommittee finished their work on the final markups for the farm commodity title this week and South Dakota Farmers Union president Doug Sombke is worried it won't go far enough to help South Dakota producers. He's worried disaster protections will be left out of the final bill that could help South Dakota farmers suffering from years of low prices and weather related crop damage. He says the country still needs a long-term disaster program that targets farmers who actually suffer losses.

"The subcommittee doesn't have one introduced into it right now and I guess I'm very concerned because the one thing that we in South Dakota have needed for many years, as everyone knows because of the drought and now of course because of the excess moisture, is a permanent disaster plan."

Sombke wants the counter-cyclical program to stay in the farm bill to provide support payments to farmers during times of low commodity prices. But direct payments to farmers should be eliminated because they're hard to justify when you have $7 beans, $5.50 wheat and $4 corn.

"I think these high prices are going to force us into a farm bill that's going to look a lot like the 96 farm bill if we're not addressing them correctly. We were going to export us into profit and we found out that wasn't the case and we ended up with these large payments. But at the same time we had very low commodity prices which in turn all it did was help the multi-national companies gain more profits in their marketplace."

Sombke also questions the Conservation Security Program payments that provide government assistance to promote conservation on Tribal and private working lands. He feels it started out as an excellent program that rewarded farmers for good land practices but has become a way to subsidize some very large livestock feeding operations as well.

"If we want to talk about limitations of payments maybe we need to talk about the limitation of payments on the Conservation Security Program through the EQUIP. Let's be honest, if it's good for the commodity title it should be good for the conservation title as well."

The results of the subcommittee will be forwarded on to full House Agriculture Committee.

David Law/Mandy Walker, Public News Service - SD