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Posturing on farm issues heats up

posted on January 11, 2002

In Washington, meanwhile, the posturing over several farm policy issues is under way, including complaints over slow government payments, the performance of the Agriculture Secretary, and the consolidation of large-scale confinement operations.


Posturing on farm issues heats up

Congress won't return from the Holiday recess until January 23rd. In the meantime, however, the rhetoric continues over the Farm Bill.

Senator Paul Wellstone: "I'm not worried about Tyson Foods or IBP. I'm not worried about the big grain companies. They do fine -- Cargill, et al, they do fine. The part of agriculture, the food industry, that I have the passion for are the family farmers."

Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota is calling for an amendment that would limit the amount of federal money available to large-scale, so-called, "factory farms."

The bill before Congress, currently, would lift a restriction making operations with more than 2,500 hogs ineligible for federal aid.

The Minnesota Democrat claims an amendment is needed to curtail increasing consolidation in the livestock industry - - especially within the pork sector.

Elsewhere in the beltway, the Agriculture Department is being asked to expedite non-insured crop disaster payments. The funds are earmarked for a variety of forage and grazing crops including dryland hay and alternative commodities.

Legislation authorizing the payments was signed into law several months ago, but Republican Senator Conrad Burns of Montana claims the government has been slow to process claims and is calling on the Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman to address the matter immediately.

The Farm Service Agency, says the holdup is due to delays in getting official rules for the payments published in the Federal Register.

Meanwhile, at least one federal lawmaker is calling for Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman's resignation.

North Dakota's only Congressman, Earl Pomeroy accused Veneman of doing everything in her power to prevent farmers from having a safety net.

The Democratic Representative says he's worried the Senate won't be able to pass a new farm bill when it returns, and farmers might be operating under the existing farm program this Summer.


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