ANIMAL AG AND THE FARM BILL

First, when asked, I always say yours is the best farm publication I read. I could go on about why, but that's not the reason for this e-mail.

I am a 51-year-old grain/cotton grower from west-central Alabama. I put the grain first because about three years ago corn, beans and wheat surpassed my cotton acreage. I am a delegate to the NCC, a member of the Alabama State Cotton Committee, served two terms on the Alabama Cotton Commission and hold a B.S. in General Agriculture from Mississippi State. I am not wealthy, just a farmer, and am concerned about the future of our business.

I realize we are in very good times in row-crop agriculture. We are on the brink of a new farm bill and I remember the mindset that crafted the '96 Farm Bill. We had better keep an eye out for tough times ahead. It is hard to foresee all the potential pitfalls to come, but we should avoid the ones we can.

My point is simple: We need to consider domestic animal agriculture. If we move our livestock industry offshore, it will more than offset the gains we make in biofuels.

USDA's proposed farm bill looks better than I had envisioned, but we need to at least discuss diverting some of the payments to the livestock sector in times of high grain prices. If the mandated renewable fuels standard is real, we may have an artificial floor (safety net). I prefer high prices to high payments. The cotton industry lost its domestic market, and while exports are nice, they can't replace domestic customers.
Stanley Walters, Gallion, AL