FARMERS TRAVEL TO WASHINGTON TO DISCUSS NEW FARM BILL
"MONTGOMERY, Ala" Alabama farmers are hoping to plant new ideas in the 2002 Farm Bill when they meet with their Congressmen and members of the Bush administration in Washington next week.
Jerry Newby, president of Alabama Farmers Federation, will lead almost 300 Alabama farmers on their annual Washington, D.C. legislative trip March 10-14. During the trip, farmers will meet with many of the leaders who directly affect their livelihoods.
"I think the past Farm Bill gave farmers what they wanted in terms of flexibility, but it didn't take into account the downturn in the agricultural economy," said Keith Gray, the Federation's Washington lobbyist. "There is no safety net in place under the current Farm Bill that will help farmers in times of low prices and disastrous crop years. For the last three years, many of our farmers in Alabama have been hit with both -- low production and low prices."
Farmers will talk to Congressional leaders about maintaining the flexibility of the current Farm Bill while trying to restore a safety net that protects them in poor years.
"When farmers visit their Congressmen it shows our elected officials that we care about what goes on in Washington and how it affects us in Alabama as producers and consumers," Gray said. "This visit puts a face on Alabama agriculture so that policymakers can see first hand the people who are affected by the decisions they make."
Dale Moore, chief of staff for newly confirmed Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, is scheduled to meet with the Alabama farmers. He will discuss Sec. Veneman's agenda for the coming year. Other meetings include a Senate and House Agriculture Committee briefings by U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-MS, and Congressman Charlie Stenholm, D-Texas.