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Food, Fuel, and Farm Disaster Relief – Congress Agrees on Farm Bill

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 By Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - OH, Contact
May 13, 2008

Columbus, OH – Congress has reached long-awaited agreement on a new Farm Bill. Joe Logan with the Ohio Farmers Union says the legislation offers lots of good news for Ohio, including a substantial increase for food and nutrition relief and an investment in alternative energy. He says those are especially important with high food and fuel prices hitting consumers in Ohio and around the nation.

"When the entire world is really worried about food availability as well as price, and of course energy insecurity as well, the Congress has come forward with what we believe is probably the best compromise that can be reached at this time."

A permanent disaster relief provision is good news for Ohio farmers, Logan adds. He says it will streamline relief efforts for farmers in case of floods, droughts or other disasters that wipe out crops.

The Farm Bill agreement also would boost investment in farm-based energy, including biofuels. Those fuels have gotten some of the blame for increased food prices lately, but Logan notes they help keep transportation costs down, which is an important factor in food prices.

"Frankly, those fuel prices are a large part of the increased cost of food production, which is one of the elements that has pushed food prices up as high as they are."

President George Bush has threatened to veto the Farm Bill, in large part because it continues to provide commodity subsidies. Although Logan agrees the president should be concerned about those subsidies, he thinks the good news in the Farm Bill outweighs those concerns.

"We think it should not be vetoed. We've made improvements in this bill by narrowing down the amount of subsidies that larger farmers and wealthy farmers can receive. We didn't go as far as we would have liked to, but Congress has gone as far as they can reach a deal on."

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