Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vilsack signals greener farm policy under Obama

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has given some clues at the future of farm policy under the Obama Administration. He told delegates to the National Cotton Council’s annual meeting in Washington Monday, "producers must begin to think creatively and innovatively about how they can use their land to absorb carbon, how they can structure a financial market for the use of their land and provide additional support for everyone who farms."

Vilsack seemed to be echoing policy favored by environmental groups and Tom Harkin, the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman. "Those groups and Harkin have argued that traditional farm program payments should be dismantled and replaced with “greener” conservation program payments that would reward producers for reducing the carbon footprint in the farming practices," reports Forest Laws of the Southwest Farm Press.

Citing the latest farm census figures, which point to an increase in the number of smaller and larger farms, Vilsack pointed to a need to buoy middle sized farms throughout the country. Those middle sized farms consist of "125,000 U.S. farmers who procduce 75 percent of the nation's agricultural output," writes Laws.

Vilsack's comments met with a mixed repsonse. Many of the cotton farmers in attendence "have long fought for the more traditional price support programs contained in the farm bills," adds Laws. (Read more)

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