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Farm Bill Hits Front Burner Today

November 5, 2007

Lyons, NE – The Senate starts work today on a new, multi-billion dollar Farm Bill. Dan Owens with the Center for Rural Affairs believes one priority for Minnesota and the Midwest is changing the current policy of providing subsidies to the largest farm operations. He says that could be a hot issue on the Senate floor.

"Putting in a hard cap, closing the loopholes, and making sure farm program payments go to farmers and not big-city investors is the biggest thing Congress can do to help family farmers."

Owens says lawmakers will consider a plan to end unlimited subsidies by capping them at $250,000. He explains the money saved would go to rural economic development, conservation and nutrition programs. He argues current subsidies to so-called "mega-farms" could be put to better use.

"We could take the savings, and invest in the future of rural America through conservation and rural economic development. It's really a win-win for rural America, to get the giant corporate mega-farms off government payments."

Owens believes another priority for Minnesota, the Midwest rural economy and everyone who eats, is to open the door for future farmers.

"Getting a new generation of stewards on the land is critical. We have more farmers 55 or older than we do farmers younger than 35. And there are a lot of good programs that we could fund to create that new generation."

The bill before the Senate has a $288 billion price tag. It differs from the House plan passed in August, and lawmakers from both chambers will have to negotiate a compromise. Both Minnesota Senators have expressed support for the Senate's version of the bill. A final Farm Bill is expected by Thanksgiving, and could be law by the end of the year.

More information regarding the Farm Bill provisions can be found online at the Center for Rural Affairs website,

Jim Wishner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MN