Two Midwestern agricultural leaders and two former Secretaries of Agriculture endorsed new policy recommendations for the 21st century contained in a report released by American Farmland Trust.

The report, Agenda 2007: A New Framework and Direction for U.S. Farm Policy, offers guidelines and policy recommendations for the next farm bill.

“Nearly half the land in America is working land—farms and ranches,” says Ralph Grossi, president of American Farmland Trust during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. “Our proposed framework replaces outdated policies with programs that will help U.S. farmers and ranchers to be successful in the future and to protect our natural resources.”

AFT’s policy guidelines focus on generating future prosperity for all types of farms and ranches. They reward farmers for protecting the environment and for providing public goods such as wildlife habitat and clean water. Major policy recommendations in the report include:

“Green payments” to create greater incentives for farmers to deliver environmental benefits;

  • Revenue-based risk management programs to replace counter-cyclical programs;
  • A $1 billion grants program to foster innovative enterprises, markets and regional food systems; and
  • A new cooperative conservation program to encourage further stewardship.

“The 2007 Farm Bill offers farmers the opportunity to shape the future of U.S. agriculture and begin the transition to a free and open global marketplace,” says Ron Warfield, corn and soybean farmer from Illinois and former president of the Illinois Farm Bureau. “Reform in domestic U.S. farm policy must go hand-in-hand with major reform in trade distorting farm and trade policies in the WTO Trade Agreement.”

Livestock producers and specialty crop growers, who largely were left out of previous farm bills, also have a major stake in a new generation of farm policies.

“AFT’s safety net options provide a transition away from market distorting subsidies and will greatly increase our chances of expanding market access,” states John Hardin, an Indiana pork and grain producer and past president of the National Pork Producers Council. “There is little to be gained by extending policies rooted in the past. AFT wisely sets the stage for a 21st century farm policy that meets the needs of 21st century agriculture.”

AFT notes that recent talk about extending the 2002 Farm Bill beyond 2007 flies in the face of the forces converging on current U.S. farm policy and disregards the opportunity to rebuild public support for American agriculture.

“Today, we are calling on other agriculture leaders to join us in forging a long-overdue, new vision for farm policy that will strengthen the future of U.S. agriculture,” adds Grossi.

You can get a copy of the full report at AFT’s Web site, www.farmland.org, or by contacting Jennifer Morrill at jmorrill@farmland.orgor 202-378-1255.

American Farmland Trust news release