Many Proposals For The Next Farm Bill
USDA gathered input from agriculture producers and others at a series of Farm Bill Listening Sessions in 2005 and early 2006. The input gathered at these Listening Sessions was used by USDA to develop a series of analytical theme papers, which were intended to be used as support information to help guide the decisions related to the development of the next Farm Bill.

The five USDA 2007 Farm Bill Theme Papers focus on the following:
1. Risk Management (Commodity Programs and Crop Insurance)
2. Conservation and Environment (CRP, EQIP, WRP, CSP, etc.)
3. Energy and Agriculture (Renewable Energy, etc.)
4. Rural Development Programs
5. Strengthening The Foundation For Future Growth In U.S. Agriculture (World Trade, New Markets, Food Safety, Biosecurity, Human Nutrition, etc.)

A Farm Bill covers all USDA Programs, which is quite comprehensive, and affects a significant percentage of the U.S. population. All of the USDA 2007 Farm Bill Theme Papers, and other information relative to the development of a new Farm Bill, are available through connections with the USDA web site at: www.usda.gov

Kent Thiesse, Vice President at MinnStar Bank and Government Farm Program Analyst, has prepared a series of four articles that focus on some of the ideas for provisions in a new Farm Bill that would relate to the programs that directly impact farm operators. The articles also include some of the background and history of farm commodity programs. To receive a free copy of the articles related to development of the next Farm Bill, please contact Kent by phone at (507) 726-2137, or by e-mail at: kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com


Next Steps In The New Farm Bill

WTO trade agreements and the growing federal budget deficit are likely to weigh heavily on any changes or considerations related to DCP direct or counter-cyclical payments (CCPs), CCC marketing loans or LDPs and Federal Crop Insurance. Most likely there will be some type of direct payment, and some form of CCC commodity loans in the next Farm Bill. However, the future of CCPs and LDPs is far less certain, and could be replaced with some type of revenue-based commodity program. It’s less likely that we will see policies that would give the federal government extended control of grain inventories, such as longer CCC loan periods, or re-authorization of a grain reserve, unless it’s somehow targeted as a strategic energy grain reserve, or something similar. Many farm groups and congressional leaders are calling for some type of permanent crop and livestock disaster legislation to be included in the next Farm Bill. There seems to be very strong support in Congress, and by the public, including many farm operators, to reduce payment limits and to tighten-up so-called payment limit loopholes. The biggest challenge is arriving at payment limits that are fair and equitable for all producers throughout the U.S., and that treat all commodities equitably.

The CRP program is popular and will continue; however, CRP acreage caps are not likely to increase, unless those added CRP acres are somehow linked to producing plant material for renewable energy production. Expansion of the Conservation Security Program (CSP), and other conservation and environmental program provisions will likely get considerable discussion during the Farm Bill debate, however, this will largely depend the level of funding provided by Congress for CSP and other green payments.Some groups would like to see a minimum level of CSP as a farm program requirement.

There will be a lot of discussion regarding the new Farm Bill in the coming months, as the new Congress organizes in 2007. The key to getting a new Farm Bill completed in 2007 will be to what degree members of Congress and USDA can reach compromise on keeping, changing or adding various provisions.

You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.

Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN.