The Honorable Larry Combest, Chairman
The Honorable Charlie Stenholm, Ranking Member
Committee on Agriculture
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Tom Harkin, Chairman
The Honorable Richard Lugar, Ranking Member
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
We are writing to urge you, as leaders of the respective agriculture committees and members of the conference committee with the task of writing new, improved farm legislation so critical to America’s farmers and ranchers, to ensure first that adequate and stable funding is available for commodity programs. As you know, our organizations worked closely with members of both the House and Senate to support inclusion of $73.5 billion in additional funding in the budget resolution. This funding was needed to enable Congress to craft commodity programs that would provide critically needed financial stability to farmers and ranchers in times of low prices and would lessen dependence on ad hoc emergency assistance packages.
We continue to believe that effective, long-term farm policy, which includes a more effective safety net, cannot be developed without adequate funding for commodity programs. It is also important that adequate support for commodity programs be made available over the long term, not only to ensure the viability of U.S. agriculture today, but, more pragmatically, to ensure that agriculture will not face a declining budget baseline in the future.
In order to provide the necessary framework to speed the resolution of issues, we urge the conference committee promptly to agree that at least two-thirds of the additional funds for agriculture provided in the 2001 budget resolution be allocated to commodity programs. Without this level of commitment the committee will probably be unable to craft workable farm policy. At the same time, by restoring financial stability to individual farms, this funding allocation would enable producers to invest more of their resources into conservation and environmental measures on their farms and ranches.
We believe that this allocation will leave ample funds to provide not only the largest-ever increase in funding for conservation programs, but also for generous funding for trade, nutrition and other important programs.
Thank you for your consideration of our views presented on behalf of our farmers and ranchers who are anxiously awaiting a favorable conference agreement.
Alabama Farmers Federation
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Corn Growers Association
National Cotton Council
National Grain Sorghum Producers
Rice Millers’ Association
Southern Peanut Farmers Federation
U.S. Rice Producers Association
U.S. Rice Producers Group