New Farm Bill Proposal Cuts Farm Payments by 18 Billion

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New proposals by the Bush administration have some farmers worried.
The 2007 farm bill may reduce farm payments by 18 billion dollars over the next five years.

The US Department of Agriculture says the 2007 farm bill will be more fiscally responsible and more efficient in it's support of America's farmers.

The department hopes to move to a more market-oriented farm program that uses revenue to determine levels of assistance. But, the Wisconsin Farmers Union says parts of the new bill will hurt local farmers.

"Some programs in the past have paid farmers just because they produce and we don't think that's a good idea, and when prices drop it wasn't an adequate amount to keep them viable," Sue Beitlich President of the Wisconsin Farmers Union said.

She says the current system that kicks in only when prices drop to a low level is best for farmers and consumers. However, the union is happy with the bill's commitment to energy conservation and renewable energy. Still, farmer Jamie Derr says words may not be enough.

"We don't see that actually translating to programs in the new farm bill if this new energy's going to come from the farm, the farm bill is really what's going to light the fire that's going to make this happen," Derr said.

He says he wants assistance to help farmers only when prices drop too low.

Other areas of concern for farmers include cuts to the MILC dairy assistance program and a reduction in commodity safety nets.
Still, lawmakers are looking to balance the budget and say the new program could save 10 billion dollars over five years.