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The Opinion Page

Guest Column: Vilsack’s 10 reasons why a farm bill must pass

Getting a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed this year is essential — and it can’t fall victim to politics as usual. Too much is at stake, and too many people lose out if Congress can’t act.

Here are 10 good reasons why Congress must take action as soon as possible to achieve passage of a Farm Bill this year:

1. America’s farmers, ranchers and producers need certainty about the next five years of U.S. farm policy, to continue the recent momentum of the U.S. agricultural economy and rising farm income.

2. Livestock producers need disaster assistance applied retroactively, in light of a long-term drought that has forced the liquidation of herds to the lowest level in decades.

3. Dairy producers need an effective support system that helps them to stem the decline in the number of U.S. dairy operations.

4. Farmers, landowners and forest owners need streamlined conservation programs that will make a more efficient and effective use of limited conservation funds, while building on record conservation efforts underway today.

6. Researchers and students at Land Grant Universities need support to meet modern challenges in agriculture and carry out the innovation we need to sustainably increase agricultural production. A new, nonprofit research foundation provided by a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill could leverage millions of dollars of private sector funding to provide this assistance.

7. Job seekers in rural America need new and expanded investments in renewable energy, biofuel, and biobased product manufacturing, all of which can create jobs in rural areas.

8. Beginning producers — including a growing number of veterans returning to the land — need technical assistance, credit and affordable crop insurance to get started and keep growing. This is especially important as we seek to reverse the rising average age of America’s farm population.

9. Producers and small business owners need a resolution of the Brazil cotton dispute that if left unsolved, threatens hundreds of millions of dollars annually in tariff penalties against U.S. agricultural products and other American-made goods.

10. And anyone who is concerned about the Federal deficit needs a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that provides meaningful deficit reduction.

These all are good reasons why a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill can’t wait.

Americans across the country are impacted by this important legislation, and Congress must achieve passage of a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible.

Letter to the Editor: Consumers should have a choice at the pump

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers are shameless in their efforts to protect their industry from further competition, and will do anything to protect their monopoly at the pump. The latest: They paid for a rally on Capitol Hill with the American Motorcycle Association calling for more testing of E15 (ethanol), the most tested fuel in the history of the EPA, and a fuel that is not approved for motorcycles!

Isn’t it ironic that the same special interest groups and members of Congress who talk about “fiscal responsibility,” reining in government regulations on businesses and preach “free markets” are the same ones advocating for government testing and regulations to prevent fuel alternatives to fossil fuels at the pump?

Isn’t it ironic that these same groups that call for an end to government subsidies and mandates are the same ones that hide behind the government to ban consumer choice at the fuel pump and call for the government to manipulate the grain markets by limiting competition and subsidizing grain prices?

Let the free market decide; let consumers have a choice at the fuel pump other than fossil fuels. Let’s stop catering to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and other special interests who preach one thing while blushing behind the wall of the government protectionism that they’ve enjoyed for so many decades.