Agribusiness
Q & A: Keeping Farm Payments Focused on Family Farms PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 20 June 2011 12:36

Q.  What is the Rural America Preservation Act?

A.  The Rural America Preservation Act is legislation I’ve sponsored to help restore the government farm program to its original intent by making sure program payments are targeted at small- and medium-sized farmers who need assistance getting through tough economic times that are due to circumstances beyond a farmer’s control.  I introduced the bill with Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota.  The legislation would limit the total amount of farm-program payments that a single farmer could receive to $125,000.  The payment-limit breakdown for an individual farmer would be 1) a cap of $20,000 on direct payments, which are based on a farmer’s acres and yields, as well as a set payment rate; 2)  a cap of $30,000 on counter-cyclical payments, which are available to farmers when the market price of the commodity they produce is less than a target price set by the federal government; and 3) a cap of $75,000 total on gains a farmer can receive from repaying a marketing assistance loan, loan deficiency payments, and gains realized from the use of a commodity certificate issued by the Commodity Credit Corporation.

Our bipartisan bill also would close a loophole that some non-farmers have exploited to improperly receive farm payments.  It does so by narrowing the guidelines used to define who is considered actively engaged in farming.  The evidence of non-farmers’ abusing this loophole is astounding.  Both the Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Payment Limit Commission have pinpointed this as a critical area of concern.  Closing this eligibility loophole is important to maintaining support from non-farm state members of Congress for the farm program.  In order to help alleviate this problem, the bill would create a measurable standard of active, personal labor and management for the Department of Agriculture to use in determining if people requesting farm program payments are indeed farmers, or if they are just trying to game the system.

Q.  Why are these changes necessary?  

 

A.  To ensure that farmers are able to provide a safe, affordable and abundant food supply, it’s important to get the farm safety net back to its original intent.  The federal farm programs were meant to help small- and medium-sized farmers weather the bumps associated with farming.  The importance of providing a food supply is clear at every family’s dinner table.  Without a reliable and affordable food supply, desperation results.  If a mom or a dad wasn’t able to feed their kids for three days, they would do just about anything to feed them.  If we lose the safety net that allows family farmers to weather the storm, then that safe, affordable and abundant food supply might just go away.  To keep this safety net in place, we need to change the way farm program payments are distributed.  Unfortunately, under current policies 10 percent of the biggest farmers in the U.S. receive more than 70 percent of farm payments, and some payments go to non-farmers.  If left as is, the distribution system that pays out the lion’s share of federal dollars to the largest and wealthiest farming operations will spell the beginning of the end of the farm safety net.

The trend in farm program payments going to big farmers also has a negative impact on the next generation of farmers.  We need to keep young people in farming, so they’re ready to take the lead when the older generation of farmers turn over the reins.  When 70 percent of farm payments go to 10 percent of farmers, it puts upward pressure on land prices and cash-rent arrangements, making it a lot harder for smaller and beginning farmers to buy ground or afford to rent land.  This makes it difficult to get a foothold in farming and leads to big farmers getting even bigger.

It’s time to enact legitimate, reasonable farm program payment limits that tighten eligibility requirements and help those that the farm program was created for in the first place.  The Grassley-Johnson bill would go a long way toward getting the farm program refocused on providing needed assistance to small- and medium-sized farmers.

 
Grassley, Colleagues Urge End to Russian Roadblocks to U.S. Pork Products PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 20 June 2011 12:31

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, with Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and 26 other senators, is urging the top U.S. trade official to work to lift Russian trade barriers to U.S. pork products.

“Russia’s unjustified position against U.S. pork has blocked products from plants that account for 60 percent of U.S. pork production capacity,” Grassley said.  “Russia wants to join the World Trade Organization.  One of the issues Russia needs to address before joining is its unwarranted barriers to U.S. pork.”

The Grassley-Nelson letter to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk outlines two major barriers from Russia to U.S. pork.  The first is Russia’s unilateral lowering of the amount of U.S. pork it allows to be imported, cutting the previously agreed-upon amount by about half.  The second is Russia’s use of sanitary restrictions to limit U.S. pork exports to Russia.  The Russian restrictions are not supported by science or valid risk assessments.

The letter urges the trade representative to work toward encouraging Russia to ease the unwarranted restrictions and abide by commitments as a precursor to joining the World Trade Organization. The United States was able to obtain commitments from China and Vietnam to overcome similar obstacles as part of those countries’ accession to the World Trade Organization.  Twenty-five percent of all U.S. pork is produced in Iowa. 

Grassley is a member of the Agriculture Committee and former chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Finance, with jurisdiction over international trade.  Signing the bipartisan letter include the chairman and ranking member of the Agriculture Committee.

The letter follows a similar letter that Grassley hand-delivered to top Russian officials on a trip to Russia last month.  The text of the latest letter is available here.

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Braley Stands Up Against Attack on Iowa Farmers, Agriculture PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Alexandra Krasov   
Friday, 17 June 2011 13:10
Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement after the House voted on the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill:

“Since the start of this Congress, we’ve seen a sustained attack on Iowa farmers and our state’s economy. This bill is just the latest to threaten the thousands of jobs that depend on agriculture and the ethanol industry. I voted against previous bills that threatened Iowa jobs and I voted against this bill today because I will always stand up for Iowa farmers, jobs and our middle class families.”

 

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America’s Farmers Mobile Experience Gives Residents a Look into the Life of an American Farmer PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Dorothy Tate   
Friday, 17 June 2011 13:08

Local farmer hosts Mobile Experience in the Quad Cities 

BETTENDORF, Iowa  (June 16, 2011) – Residents in the Quad Cities got a peek into the life of American farmers and had the chance to better understand the challenges they are facing by touring Monsanto’s America’s Farmers Mobile Experience.  The traveling exhibit is a 53-foot long trailer that expands into 1,000-square-feet of exhibit space, designed to showcase the lives and contributions of American farmers.

Kevin Green, local farmer, had the opportunity to host the Mobile Experience in his hometown at Isle Casino in Bettendorf on June 7 and 8.  “I think it is great that we as farmers now have this tool to help us better communicate with consumers,” Green said. “This is a step in the right direction and hopefully it will bring greater awareness about where food comes from.”

Visitors enter the Mobile Experience to find interactive tools that identify the challenges farmers face as they increase food production to meet the needs of a growing world population.  A 180-degree theater features a video spotlighting an American farm family and what they are currently doing to meet those challenges.  In the video, visitors hear three generations of farm women speak about what farming means to them.

The final phase of the tour highlights the tools and technologies farmers use every day that help them produce safe, affordable and abundant food, fuel and clothing.

America’s farmers grow our economy and care for our land. Monsanto wants to involve the consumer in every aspect of the farmer’s life, from food production to the challenges they face. America’s farmers ship nearly $100 billion worth of crops around the world, and generate 24 million jobs in the United States. But even with these significant accomplishments, the reality is that many Americans aren’t familiar with the increasing demands a skyrocketing population has placed on farmers to feed, fuel and clothe the world. Monsanto hopes to change that one person at a time through this new Mobile Experience.

For more information on Monsanto’s America’s Farmers Mobile Experience or to hear from other American farm families, please visitwww.AmericasFarmers.com.

About Monsanto Company

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world’s natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about our business and our commitments, please visit: www.monsanto.com. Follow our business on Twitter® at www.twitter.com/MonsantoCo, on the company blog, Beyond the Rows, at www.monsantoblog.com, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.

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High Tunnel Field Day at Armstrong Research Farm Near Lewis PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 16 June 2011 12:52

AMES, Iowa - Proper water management is an essential skill for fruit and vegetable high tunnel growers. Since the plastic film covering prevents rain water from reaching the crop, the environment underneath is virtually a desert. Water is typically provided by drip irrigation lines placed beside the crops. Drip irrigation waters only the crop root zone, keeping the foliage dry which results in less incidence of foliage diseases associated with water on the leaves.

However, an estimated 1,800 gallons of water runs off a 30 x 96 foot high tunnel with each inch of rain. That volume tends to puddle around the sides of a high tunnel or requires drainage. Rather than letting water create a saturated area around the high tunnel, erode the soil around the high tunnelor go unused, Iowa State University Extension specialists have developed a system to collect the rain water and store it for reuse on the crops in the high tunnel. The system demonstrates a water collection system that was retrofitted on a Quonset style high tunnel with both electric and solar powered pumps.

The public is invited to a field day to learn more about this system and see the production and drip irrigation system in the high tunnel. The field day will be held on July 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm, 53020 Hitchcock Avenue, Lewis, Iowa. The farm is located 11 miles southwest of Atlantic.
For more information, contact Linda Naeve at 515-294-8946 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Practical Farmers of Iowa also will be hosting a field day in central Iowa for high tunnel water catchment installed on a new gothic-style high tunnel. The field day will be held July 18 at the Nature Road Farm, 753 Nature Road, Boone, Iowa. For more information go to page 8 of 2011 Field Day Schedule and Guide at www.practicalfarmers.org/events/field-days.html.

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