U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns will host a series of forums to discuss the 2007 Farm Bill in a public venue. The current Farm Bill expires with the 2007 crop year, and USDA is seeking public input on six topics. "I do not begin this process with preconceived notions about the direction future farm policy should take," Johanns told attendees of an Illinois farming convention.
The first Farm Bill Forum will be held July 7 in Nashville, Tenn., from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. It will be broadcast live on RFD-TV, and will accept call-in questions and comments from those unable to attend.
Organic farmers—of whom there are an estimated 10,000 in the United States—should be heartened to learn that USDA publicly supports "conservation and environmental goals," as outlined in its list of questions for the public.
USDA is seeking public comment on the following questions:
- How should farm policy be designed to maximize U.S. competitiveness and our country's ability to effectively compete in global markets?
- How should farm policy address any unintended consequences and ensure that such consequences do not discourage new farmers and the next generation of farmers from entering production agriculture?
- How should farm policy be designed to effectively and fairly distribute assistance to producers?
- How can farm policy best achieve conservation and environmental goals?
- How can federal rural and farm programs provide effective assistance in rural areas?
- How should agricultural product development, marketing and research-related issues be addressed in the next farm bill?
Additional forums will be held throughout in the year in locations and on dates to be announced. USDA will accept comments—at the forums, electronically and via traditional mail—through Dec. 30. To submit comments electronically, go to www.usda.gov and select Farm Bill Forums, or e-mail [email protected]. To submit by mail, send correspondence to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, Farm Bill, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C., 20250-3355.