Gary Feist, an Anthony, KS, cotton ginner, told Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns that the current farm program provides an important safety net for U.S. agriculture in a fiscally responsible manner — and it's important the bill's current structure be maintained for the legislation's duration.

Feist, speaking at one of USDA's farm bill listening sessions at the Kansas State Fair, also emphasized that Kansas agriculture would be harmed by more restrictive payment limits. He noted that analysis by the federal government's Payment Limit Commission indicated that tighter limits on contract payments under the 1996 farm bill would have taken $53 million from Kansas farmers.

Feist, who also grows cotton in Manchester, OK, near the Kansas border, said that both the Commission and the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) concluded that payment limitations affect cotton and rice farmers disproportionately compared to feed grain, oilseed and wheat farmers. He said limitations changes now likely will result in a production shift to other crops.

“If we are concerned about our competitiveness in the global market, then tighter payment limits only lessens that competitiveness by restricting operations to a size that is smaller than is economically efficient,” Feist said.