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Ag Secretary Wants Program Changes

Speaking to governors this week, Mike Johanns talks about ways to provide revenue assurance when farmers need it most.

Governors gathered in the gambling town of Deadwood, S.D. got a discussion of a different kind of risk when Ag Secretary Mike Johanns joined the group. During the event, Johanns talked about overhauling farm programs in ways that would help farmers during droughts, floods, and other disasters, according to wire reports.

Johanns, who sat in on more than 22 listening sessions early in his tenure as Ag Secretary, says farmers told him that USDA pays them the most when they need the money the least - during a bumper crop. But when there's a crop failure, current programs don't really help.

Johanns is proposing a system that would take into account farm revenue when determining payments. The former governor of Nebraska talked farm policy with the Western Governors' Association during its annual meeting.

He also discussed disaster relief and the uncertainty brought on by programs that rely on Congressional action when farmers wait for help to come from some legislative package. Johanns did tell the governors that farmers support the proposal to cut subsidies to anyone making more than $200,000 a year in adjusted gross income, but Southern farmers remain opposed to the plan.

Debate on the farm bill is still bouncing around inside congressional committees but the discussions should heat up later this summer.

TAGS: USDA
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