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AGRI LEADER

Is US ar! "olicy obsolete#
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Central 2lorida3s Agri4Leader
2or a decade. the Institute or Agriculture and Trade
)olicy has been trying to oster a !ore !odern.
co!"rehensive "olicy than the one relected in the last t5o
ar! bills6 Today. based on gro5ing debate about
A!erica3s ood su""ly and "olitical gridloc7 in
Washington. the organi8ation believes it is closer to success
than ever beore6
The e9isting structure o the last ar! bill :largely ignores
the dee" syste!ic challenges "laguing our ar!ers and
ood syste!.; argues IAT) in a "osition "a"er titled
$eyond the 2ar! $ill6 Those challenges include :5ild
luctuations in agriculture "rices that hurt ar!ers and
consu!ers. s7yroc7eting land "rices that 7ee" beginning
ar!ers o the land. the e9"loitation o ar! and ood
5or7ers. the gro5ing !ar7et "o5er o big cor"orations
that over5hel! local ood syste!s built to connect 5ith
their co!!unities. and rising inco!e ine<uality that 7ee"
healthy ood out o the reach o !any. des"ite its
availability6;
$en Lilliston. vice "resident o "rogra!s at
+innea"olis4based IAT). outlined the organi8ation3s case
or change6
:The unda!ental "roble! 5ith the current ar! bill is
that it doesn3t give enough attention to ho5 the =ood>
!ar7et 5or7s.; he said6 :2or e9a!"le. there is such
volatility in "rices and ar!ers have so little "o5er that
they are very vulnerable to actors beyond their control6 So
ro! our "ers"ective. an eective ar! bill needs to ta7e
into account all 7inds o ar!ers and the !ar7et
conditions they ace. not ?ust large co!!ercial o"erators
and the s"ecial interests that do!inate the !ar7et6;
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1 of 3 5/20/2013 9:44 AM
Under e9isting "olicy. as relected in the last ar! bill.
large4scale "roduction o co!!odity cro"s such as corn.
5heat. soybeans. rice and cotton are overly re5arded. at
the e9"ense o s"ecialty cro"s and s!aller gro5ers.
Lilliston said6
:There are all 7inds o incentives such as subsidies and
cro" insurance "rogra!s that re5ard ar!ers or gro5ing
those cro"s.; he said6 :$ut the e9isting "olicy also
incentivi8es and re5ards the si8e and scale o o"erations6
And the reason it does the things it does is that large ood
co!"anies 5ant those 7inds o incentives and re5ards.
because they hel" the! turn these co!!odity cro"s into
all 7inds o "roducts6 That3s a very dierent 5ay o loo7ing
at ar!ing than loo7ing at s!aller ar!s that are generally
!ore diverse in ter!s o 5hat they gro5 and 5ho are
ocused "ri!arily on su""lying ood to their local and
regional !ar7ets6;
The nu!ber o ar!ers !ar7ets in the U6S6 ?u!"ed ,B
"ercent in /0,,. IAT) says. and all -0 states no5 have
ar!4to4school nutrition "rogra!s6 :Des"ite such
o""ortunities.; Lilliston said. :signiicant inrastructure.
!ar7eting. and inor!ation barriers are li!iting gro5th in
local and regional agriculture6;
Washington la5!a7ers are 5ell behind the curve 5hen it
co!es to gro5ing a5areness a!ong ar!ers and
consu!ers that current agriculture "olicy is outdated and
counter"roductive. Lilliston said6 :'utside the belt5ay. I
thin7 5e have reached a ti""ing "oint.; he said6 :$ut
inside the belt5ay. I thin7 Washington 5ill try to inish
and "ass a ne5 ar! bill. based on e9isting "olicy. this
year6;
Ho5ever. he added. IAT) is increasingly conident that
based on !ar7et realities and shiting "ublic o"inion. over
the ne9t several years signiicant change can be
acco!"lished6
A ste" in the right direction. Lilliston said. is the :Local
2ood. 2ar!s and &obs Act; introduced in the House by
+aine Re"6 Chellie )ingree. D. in late A"ril and s"onsored
in the Senate by 'hio Sen6 Sherrod $ro5n. D6 The bill has
su""ort ro! -1 !e!bers o the House and ,C senators 4
all o the! De!ocrats6 (o !e!ber o 2lorida3s
congressional delegation is currently listed as a
co4s"onsor6
:The bill re"resents a serious atte!"t to shit the "riorities
o the ar! bill to a !ore sensible a""roach that can be
integrated into a ne5 ar! bill.; Lilliston said6 :It3s a irst
ste" in 5hat 5ill be a long "olitical "rocess6 And
realistically. it3s li7ely that "rocess 5on3t get started until
one !ore ar! bill based on current "olicies is "ut into
"lace6;
2lorida 2ar! $ureau su""orts current agricultural "olicy
and the e9isting ar! bill conce"t. said &anell Hendren.
22$3s national aairs coordinator6
Agri Leader
Hogs run 5ild throughout 2lorida
When the earth !oves under our eet
Is US ar! "olicy obsolete#
So!e resh4air !ar7ets brave su!!erDs
heat
Gro5 your o5n avocados
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2 of 3 5/20/2013 9:44 AM
:We su""ort the current conce"t o the ar! bill as it
relates to "roviding stability or our ood su""ly and a
saety net so that the country can eel secure about
"roviding its o5n ood and iber.; Hendren said6 :And that
saety net. based on things li7e "rice luctuations and
natural disasters. is critical to an eective agricultural
"olicy6 So it3s essential that 5e continue that6;
Although 22$ disagrees 5ith IAT)3s assess!ent that large
agribusinesses do!inate current govern!ent "olicy.
Hendren said 22$ agrees in "rinci"le that :there is a lot o
o""ortunity or i!"rove!ent o current agricultural
"olicy6 2or e9a!"le. 5e su""ort e9"anding cro" insurance
"rogra!s6 We also su""ort the overall conce"t o a ar!er
!a7ing "roduction decisions based on !ar7et actors
rather than govern!ent "rogra!s6;
The good thing about the ar! bill. Hendren said. is that it
!ust be rene5ed every ive years6 :So that !eans 5e can
have these discussions about 5hat !ight be out!oded
about our "olicies.; she said6 :'bviously. 5hat 5or7ed /0
years ago is not good "olicy today in so!e cases6 $ut the
i!"ortant issue is the stability o our ood su""ly6 And that
!eans 5e have to ocus on a "olicy that !a7es sure
agriculture continues to thrive in A!erica6 And to do that.
5e have to constantly revie5 our "olicies6;
2lorida 2ruit and @egetable Association. a leader in the
S"ecialty Cro" 2ar! $ill Alliance. has no oicial "osition
on IAT)3s initiative. said s"o7es"erson Lisa Lochridge6
2or !ore inor!ation on IAT)3s "ro"osed "olicy changes.
visit 5556iat"6orgFdocu!entsFbeyond4the4ar!4bill6

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