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23 June 2011 - Let’s Work on the 2012 Farm Bill

We are halfway through 2011 and 2012 will be here before you know it.

That is important to America’s farmers and ranchers because 2012 is the year we are supposed to write a new farm bill. Already, some folks are saying Congress will not be ready to complete a bill that soon and we will probably have to extend the current bill until Congress can do its work.

I think it is a little early to make that assumption because already both the Senate and the House Agriculture Committees are holding hearings around the country and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is certainly talking about the new farm bill. Nearly all of those discussions center on budget cuts. Secretary Vilsack recently told producers to be prepared to accept the fact there will not be as many dollars for agriculture in the new farm bill as there are in the current bill. So the lobbying begins on whose programs remain intact, and which programs see the budget knife.

Interestingly enough, and this is no surprise because it’s human nature, every government agency feels its work and its programs are critically important, so “gore somebody else’s ox, not mine”. Soil and water conservation...important; nutrition programs, terribly important to a lot of people; forest service, important; food inspection, export promotion, all of these programs in the Department of Agriculture are important to those agencies, but also to a lot of producers on America’s farms and ranches.

Really, as we have said many times before, when you take into account the size of the total USDA budget, any cut in the budget really won’t be noticed by any taxpayer because it is such a small part of the Federal budget.

To me, the most important and strongest lobbying effort should come from producers; you must be involved, and there is time to do it. Take the time to talk to your Congressmen and Senators as they come home to the district this summer to attend county and state fairs and to make their presence felt in the district. Make your presence felt too, by talking to them and offering your ideas on the ingredients important to you in the 2012 farm bill. If you can’t talk to them personally, then let them know through the many other means of communication. Just remember to be polite and to the point. That could very well be one of the most important things you do for the future of your farm or ranch this year.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.