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American Corn Growers Association commends Senate leadership for trying to improve farm bill

(May 6, 2002 – CropChoice news) – The following comes from a press release by the American Corn Growers Association.

Keith Dittrich, president of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) and a corn farmer from Tilden Neb., commended leadership in the Congress for the improvements that were contained in the new bill, "Although the ACGA recently gave the new farm bill an overall failing grade, we also understand are keenly aware that, in the current political environment, this is most likely the best farm bill we could ever have expected this year."

"The safety net for corn farmers is still about twenty percent below our cost of production, but due to the work of Senate leadership we will have a higher marketing assistance loan rate for corn over the next six years," said Dittrich. "This translates into an improvement in the overall safety net for corn of about 12 cents per bushel. But, even more important is the fact that that loan rates cannot be lowered more than three cents. The House bill would have frozen the loan rate and allowed the Secretary of Agriculture authority to lower them very significantly."

In addition to the improved loan rates, ACGA also pointed out other key improvements in the new bill, such as provisions that:

  • allows producers to update their program yields,
  • an energy title that requires federal government purchasing preference for biobased products; establishes an education program for biodiesel; provides financial and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses for the purchase of renewable energy systems such as wind powered electric generators; extends and funds USDA’s Biomass Research and Development Act through 2006; creates new programs to fund energy audits and renewable energy assessments, and provides for programs to help establish biorefineries for the production of electricity, fuels, and biobased products,
  • expands Conservation Reserve Program authority,
  • allows wind-powered electric generation on CRP acres,
  • provides direct benefits toward moderate and smaller producers,
  • establishes the Conservation Security Program to promote continued conservation practices,
  • requires country of origin labeling on most food products,
  • increases the maximum amount for a Business & Industry loan guarantee from $25 to $40 million for cooperatives, thereby giving farmer owned cooperatives the opportunity to finance construction of an ethanol plant, and
  • expands conservation and rural development funding.

"This is the best farm bill that Congress is going to pass this year," concluded Dittrich. "We want to accentuate the positives today and work to improve the negatives at a later date. We plan to start that process next year with the new Congress."