2007 Farm Bill

Yes, it is 2005 and we will soon be gearing up for the next farm bill. What do I see coming down the road and what will its impact be on you as producers?

First, the major theme of your next farm bill will be natural resource management. To a less agriculturally astute legislator, this is the transcending issue that has a feel-good factor to an urban and suburban public. This winter, sit down and think, “How can I position my business to take advantage of supports in this area, and be a good steward if environmental and natural resources.”

The next two areas will depend upon a sequence of events. If we continue to have geopolitical risk around oil and energy, then a focus on energy enhancements will be a theme. This will range from biodiesel and wind power to ethanol and biowaste. Again this will market well to the non-farm public from a consumer and environmental standpoint.

Another area of interest will be homeland security. Yes, we will have manmade and natural threats to our food system, which will rapidly evolve information based technological traceback systems. The consumer will demand and expect it and incentives will be provided.

What would I like to see?

  • Liquidity savings accounts for producers to stash cash in good years and be called upon in down cycles. It will be needed with smaller but more volatile margins in a globally competitive market.
  • Continue young and beginning farmer and rancher and minority educational programs and assistance.
  • Proactive, more entrepreneurial based medical and disability insurance programs for ag producers and small businesses. This issue is a time bomb waiting to burst in ag and rural America.
  • Encouragement beyond Social Security from retirement accounts and beyond business equity.
  • Reverse mortgages for agricultural producers, particularly for the elderly to pump cash back into rural areas.
  • Support international internship programs for youth and adults in agriculture. If we are going to play in a global market, we must understand people and cultures.

These are just my visions, which are probably a little too advanced in paradigm shifts for government institutions to handle.

My e-mail address is:sullylab@vt.edu

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.

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