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May 29, 2009   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
May 29, 2009

AFBF President Bob Stallman
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, defending direct payments in a letter to the Boston Globe, says a family farm's business structure should have "no bearing" on the issue of direct payments.

Writing in response to a May 26 Boston Globe editorial which criticized direct payments as entitlements for corporate farms, Stallman said the payments were a basic safety net for the 98 percent of U.S. farms owned and operated by families.

"Whether these family businesses are incorporated or not is only semantics and is typically done for tax purposes," Stallman wrote. "Family business structure has no bearing, nor should it minimize the fact that they are still family-owned operations."

Stallman also wrote that rising costs of energy, fertilizer and other farm inputs, means most farms -- whether selling $500,000 of agricultural products or not -- see a very slim profit margin, if any at all.

"Yet, the U.S. continues to have one of the most affordable food supplies in the world, even though many other countries subsidize their farmers with up to double the support as the U.S.," Stallman wrote. "What little taxpayers really pay to help farmers (one-half of 1 percent of the entire federal budget) is significantly realized in the overall quality, safety and affordability at the grocery store."

Stallman also argued that any change in farm support would not only put many farms in financial jeopardy, but would also "reverberate throughout the rural communities they support, affecting local schools, hospitals and other critical rural institutions, not to mention locally owned farm supply stores and equipment dealers."

"I firmly believe our system of family-oriented agriculture is worthy of the small public investment it receives," Stallman wrote in closing. "Agriculture is the backbone of America. What happens at the farm level could have significant consequences not only in rural communities across the country, but also in where our food is grown and the price tag we end up paying."

Farmers wishing to respond to the Boston Globe editorial may submit a letter to the editor via e-mail at letter@globe.com, by regular mail at Letters to the Editor The Boston Globe, P.O. Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819 or by fax to (617) 929-2098. Letters must include full name, address and a telephone number for confirmation purposes. Letters should be 200 words or less and may be condensed.

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