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Farm Bill Top Topic at Sugarbeet Convention

Frustration grows over stalled legislation and talk of a veto.

Sugarbeet farmers are meeting in Orlando, Fla., this week at their annual convention and the talk of the pending Farm Bill is taking top billing.

"There is not a single issue that's more important to sugar farmers than the swift approval of a new Farm Bill," says Steve Williams, a Fisher, Minn., farmer and president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association (ASGA). "The farmers I've spoken to over the past few weeks are growing increasingly frustrated that finalizing the Farm Bill has stalled, even though both bills passed by the House and Senate have won accolades from nearly everyone."

Williams says that the Farm Bill would act as an economic stimulus package for rural America by adding certainty to local economies.

"The economic stimulus package working its way through Congress right now is far more expensive than the commodity title of the Farm Bill, and it is funded with unbudgeted dollars. If Congress and the Administration can come together on an unbudgeted, $150 billion economic stimulus bill, surely they can come together on a budgeted Farm Bill that is a fraction of the size."

Talk of extending the Farm Bill is "alarming."

With all the decisions that must be made before planting, farmers need long-term certainty, not a short-term band-aid, he says.

Sugar growers don't plan to back off lobbying Congress and the President.

"We have worked too hard and come too far for a new Farm Bill to throw in the towel now," Williams says.

Source: The Sugar Alliance

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