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Farm Bill Hits The Front Burner Today

October 24, 2007

St. Paul, MN – The U.S. Senate gets down to business on a new, five-year Farm Bill today. Minnesota will have a big say in the outcome, since both Senators serve on the Agriculture Committee. The bill covers everything from subsidies to nutrition to energy policy to conservation. Mark Schultz, with the Land Stewardship Project, says one priority is to ensure the future of farming.

"Are beginning farmers going to get support out of this bill? There are opportunities in farming today, including organics, grass-fed, and energy crops, and we want beginning farmers to have a shot at them."

Schultz says it's a good time to get into farm-related businesses, because there's a growing market for organic foods that are grown close to home. He believes the new Farm Bill should offer incentives for people to choose agriculture careers. He says getting into farming isn't easy, but it has a harvest of rewards.

"There are many obstacles, like credit, access to land, and business and financial training. But a lot of people like to run their own shop. They want to have a sense of independence, a vision to pursue that's their own, and farming is that. They have a creative idea, and they want to see it through to completion."

The plan under consideration has a $286 billion price tag. Senate leaders hope to finish work by Thanksgiving. The U.S. House Agriculture Committee, chaired by Minnesota Congressman Colin Peterson, passed its version of the Farm Bill in August.

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN