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American Corn Growers give farm bill a failing grade

(May 1, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) has given the new farm bill an overall failing grade and announced they will not support its passage. Keith Dittrich, president of ACGA and a corn farmer from Tilden Neb., explained, "After a review of the new farm bill's components, we have found areas which deserve high marks and areas which deserve failing marks. Although the bill shows some improvements over the current Freedom to Farm program, we find the overall grade for this new bill below passing."

"The most important component of the farm bill should have been profitability for America's farm families," said Dittrich. "In this regard, the bill receives an 'F'. When calculating the bill's effective safety net for corn, we actually see no improvement over what we had over the past few years under Freedom to Farm with its supplemental payments. Rural America is going bankrupt, and this new bill does nothing to reverse this dismal trend."

"The bill also gets an 'F' in simplicity," added Dittrich. "Before the present bill, farmers had a price support program supplemented by modest subsidies in bad years. Under the new bill, farmers have no price support mechanism and will now receive three separate subsidies on the same crop using three different yield calculations. This is much more complicated than farmers should have to endure and extremely difficult to administer. It should be much less complicated and bureaucratic."

"Finally, the bill gets an 'F' for it's failure to include a ban on packer ownership, an extremely disappointing loss for family livestock producers, the largest users of corn and feedgrains."

"But I will give credit where credit is due," said Dittrich. "ACGA compliments the Senate leadership and gives high marks for the bill in the areas of improved conservation programs, an energy title, country of origin labeling for food sold in the U.S., higher loan rates, and reduction in Secretarial authority to reduce commodity loan rates. We also give a passing grade for expansion of the Conservation Reserve Program and improvements for contract livestock growers."

Dittrich said, "We also watched the Senate leadership fight a lonely fight for more significant gains in price support policy, payments limits, and a ban on packer ownership. However, they were opposed at nearly every turn by the Senate Republican leadership, most of the House Conferees, the Administration, and the Agribusiness Lobby. If nothing else, this farm bill debate had made clear who stands with family farm producers, and who stands against them."

"In the final analysis, I wish we could promote this new farm bill, but we can't," concluded Dittrich. "In spite of great efforts by friends of farmers, it has failing marks in too many areas, and ACGA gives it a failing grade."

The American Corn Growers Association represents 14,000 members in 35 states. See http://www.acga.org