Much of the nation's financial community seems convinced the American economy is on the mend. A spurt in consumer prices has even fueled speculation the economy may be heating up enough to warrant an interest rate hike to ward off inflation. In general commodity prices have risen, but most farm commodities have not been a part of that trend. Indeed as the American economy rebounds, the Rural American economy finds itself even more defined by government farm programs. And, many of those programs are currently in final draft by a select congressional committee.
Leaders of a House-Senate conference committee issued a statement earlier this week saying they have the "needed framework to speed negotiations for early April's completion" of a compromise farm bill.
Under the deal:
- Subsidies would increase 70% for grain, cotton and other crops.
- Spending would increase 80% for conservation programs that subsidize improvements in farm practices and idle environmentally sensitive land.
Still unresolved are: the Senate-approved limit on the subsidies that individual farms can receive … and a Senate-endorsed ban on meatpacker ownership of cattle and hogs.
The Center For Rural Affairs, a non-profit organization dealing with a rural concerns, has criticized the conference committee's measure. The group says long-term solutions to family farms are at risk, including value-added programs, and the beginning farmer development program.