Agribusiness
Grassley floor statement at the beginning of the farm bill debate PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 11 June 2012 08:13

Mr. President – As I grew up on my family's farm outside of New Hartford, Iowa, where I still live today, I grew to appreciate what it meant to be a farmer.  The dictionary defines a farmer as "a person who cultivates land or crops or raises animals".  But that definition doesn't come close to fully describing what a farmer is.

Being a farmer means someone willing to help a cow deliver her calf in the middle of the night, when its five degrees outside.  A farmer is someone willing to put all their earthly possessions at risk just to put a bunch of seeds in the ground, and hope that those seeds get rain at just the right time.

Farmers work hard cultivating their crops, and get the satisfaction of seeing the result of their hard work at the end of each crop season.  They take great pride in knowing they are feeding this nation and world.  And farmers tend to be people who relish the independence that comes with their chosen profession.  They are people with dirt under their fingernails.  They work long hours.  And often are underappreciated for what they do to put food on American dinner tables.  And they receive an ever shrinking share of the food dollar.

Farmers have chosen a line of work that comes with risk, risk that is inherent and often out of farmers’ control.  The risk inherent in farming is why we have a farm program.  If we want a stable food supply in this country, we need farmers who are able to produce it.  When they are hit by floods, droughts, natural disasters, wild market swings, or unfair international barriers to their products, farmers need the support to make it through.  Most farmers I know wish there wasn’t the need for a government safety-net, but they appreciate that it’s there when they do need it.

And for decade after decade, congress has maintained farm programs because the American people understand the necessity of providing a safety net for those providing our food.  That’s not to say each and every farm program ever created needs to continue.  Just as there are shifts in the market, sometimes public sentiment towards certain farm programs shifts.  Take direct payments for instance.  There was a time and place for direct payments, to help farmers through some lean years.  But now, times are okay in the agriculture industry, and the American people have rightly decided it is time for direct payments to end.  The Senate Committee has responded, and we have proposed eliminating the direct payment program.  And many farmers agree direct payments should go away.

There are other reforms the American taxpayers want to see.  There is no reason the federal government should be subsidizing big farmers to get even bigger.  People are tired of reading reports about the largest ten percent of farmers receiving nearly 70 percent of agriculture subsidies.  And you know what, most farmers agree with that as well.  Many farmers understand that in order for us to have a farm program that is defensible and justifiable, it needs to be a program designed to help the small and medium-size farmers who actually need assistance getting through rough patches out of their control.  The Senate Agriculture committee listened, and placed a payment limit of $50,000 per individual in this bill, $100,000 for married couples, for the payments under the Agricultural Risk Coverage program.

Taxpayers are equally tired of reading reports about how so many non-farmers receive farm payments.  I have been working to get reforms in farm payment eligibility for years.  And just as the tide has turned on the status quo for direct payments, the tide has turned on payment eligibility.  This bill contains crucial reform to the “actively engaged” requirements.  These reforms will ensure farm payments go to actual farmers.  The American people are not going to stand idly by anymore and watch farm payments head out the door to people who don’t really farm.

There have been some people complaining about the payment limit reforms.  They complain that it will detrimentally change the way some farm operations do things.  Well, if they mean it won’t allow non-farmers to skirt around payment eligibility, and line their pockets with taxpayer money meant for actual farmers, then yes, these reforms will impact those farming operations.  But let me make it perfectly clear, the reforms contained in this bill will not impact a farmer’s ability to receive farm payments.  Furthermore, the reforms will not affect the spouse rule.

These reforms reflect what we hear from the grassroots - which is congress needs to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars.  That’s true if we are talking about the farm program, or any other federal program.  Those who are against these reforms, are asking the American people to accept the status quo, and continue to watch as farm payments go to mega-farms and non-farmers.  We cannot, and will not accept the status quo.

The Agriculture Committee should be proud of the improvements we are making to payment limitations in this bill.  With these reforms, we bring defensibility and integrity to this farm bill.  In fact, without these reforms to the farm program, I wouldn’t be able to support this bill.  I urge my colleagues to voice their support for these important payment limit provisions, and join with me in resisting any attempt to weaken these reforms.

 
Master Woodland Managers Program Registration Now Open PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Friday, 08 June 2012 14:46
AMES, Iowa — Beginning on Aug. 28, 2012, the 38th session of Iowa's highly successful Master Woodland Managers Program will begin at the Johnson County Extension office near Iowa City, Iowa. This educational program involves 32 hours of intensive field- and classroom-oriented forestry instruction designed specifically for woodland owners or managers, public land managers, and natural resource consultants.

Course instruction focuses on various aspects of woodland management, including tree and shrub identification, basic tree biology, land and tree measurements, protection from insects and diseases, tree planting and pruning, wildlife management, timber marketing, and wood utilization. Both indoor classroom instruction and outdoor laboratory sessions will be used in this program.

Professionals from various agencies and organizations including Iowa State University, Iowa DNR, tree farmers and county conservation boards will provide instruction. A textbook and a reference notebook, plus various other technical handout materials will be provides as supporting materials.

This educational program will consist of a total of 32 hours (6 to 10 p.m. Aug. 28, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 4, 6 to 10 p.m. Sept. 11, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 18 and 25). A $50 ($65 for couples) registration fee to help cover costs of materials is required and graduates are expected to contribute at least 30 hours of public service after completing the course. Service projects could include a variety of activities designed to improve and expand tree resources in Iowa (assisting with 4-H projects, community tree plantings, forestry field days, etc.).

The Master Woodland Managers Program is sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, ISU Forestry Extension, Iowa Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry, the Iowa Tree Farm Committee and county conservation boards. To  date, 934 individuals have graduated from this program since it was initiated in 1988, and more than 22,000 public service hours have been contributed.

Anyone interested in receiving more program information and an application form should  contact Jesse Randall, ISU Extension forester, 339 Science II, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 50011-1021 (phone: 515-294-1168, or e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). Or find more information on the web at www.extension.iastate.edu/forestry.

Application deadline is July 20, 2012. A maximum of 30 people will be admitted to this educational program.

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Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Calendar PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Friday, 08 June 2012 14:43

 
IOWA FARM BUREAU MEMBERS MOURN PASSING OF LEGENDARY FARM ADVOCATE MARK PEARSON PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Laurie Johns   
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 13:40

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – June 4, 2012 – Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) members have lost a valued member of the family, as they mark the passing of longtime WHO Radio farm news announcer Mark Pearson.  Pearson, long appreciated by Iowa farmers as a tireless advocate of agriculture, was appreciated for his intelligence, his humor and his passion for farming and Iowa.

“Mark was so well-versed on the issues and people of Iowa and was so proud to be a Farm Bureau member, that it was like he was a member of the family,” said IFBF President Craig Hill, a Milo crop and livestock farmer.  “Doing an interview with Mark was always like talking to an old friend and he had such quick wit that you never knew what we was going to say, but either way, he was going to make you smile,” said Hill.

Pearson, 54, passed away early Sunday after suffering an apparent heart attack at his Madison County farm home.  “Our thoughts and prayers are with Mark’s family.  He left this world too soon and there truly will be no one else like him.  He will be greatly missed,” said Hill.

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About Iowa Farm Bureau

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to enhancing the People, Progress and Pride of Iowa.  More than 153,000 families in Iowa are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve farm and rural prosperity.  For more information about Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit the online media room at www.iowafarmbureau.com.

 
EWG Releases Crop Insurance Subsidy Analysis PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 13:25

Statement in response by Chuck Hassebrook, Center for Rural Affairs


Lyons, NE - An analysis of over a million government records pertaining to federal crop insurance has found that in 2011 more than 10,000 individual farming operations have received federal crop insurance premium subsidies ranging from $100,000 to more than $1 million apiece. The analysis found that some 26 farming operations received subsidies of $1 million or more last year.

According to the Environmental Working Group, the records have never before been made public and were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

“Subsidized crop insurance premiums have become the primary farm program,” said Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for Rural Affairs. “And if one corporation farmed the entire Midwest, the government would pay over 60 percent of its crop insurance premiums on every acre.”

“It’s past time to put a cap on crop insurance premium subsidies and stop subsidizing mega farms to bid land away from smaller and beginning farmers, ” Hassebrook added.

A copy of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) release, along with links to the analysis and supporting data, can be viewed and downloaded at http://static.ewg.org/pdf/2012cropinsurance.pdf .

According to the EWG analysis, U.S. taxpayers pick up an average of about 62 percent of the crop insurance premiums for farm businesses. Their share of these premiums has soared from $1.5 billion in 2002 to $7.4 billion in 2011. The subsidies go to large operators with no conservation strings attached to protect water and soil, no means testing, and no payment limit on how much a farm business can collect (excerpted from EWG release).

Among the facts disclosed in the EWG analysis:

  • A single farm business in Florida received $1.9 million in subsidies for premiums to insure crops of tomatoes and peppers in five counties.
  • A Minnesota farm business insuring corn and soybeans in eight counties received $1.7 million in federal crop insurance subsidies.
  • In Texas, the 10 percent of farm businesses that received the greatest amount of insurance subsidies harvested 63 percent of all the crop insurance subsidies that went into the state last year.
  • The 10 percent of North Dakota farm businesses that received the greatest amount of insurance subsidies took in 45 percent of the subsidies going to all farms in the state.

 
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