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Farm groups form coalition to push bill by September

Thirty-nine farm groups today announced they have formed a coalition to urge Congress to pass a new farm bill before the 2008 bill expires on September 30, and that they will hold an event in Iowa on August 28 and one in Washington on September 12 to publicize the effort.

The coalition, called Farm Bill Now, includes the two largest general farm groups, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, as well as groups representing major commodity crops, livestock, specialty and minor crops, energy and biobased product groups, farm cooperatives and financial groups.

Farm Bill Now has launched a website at www.FarmBillNow.com, through which visitors can connect to their members of Congress and show support for a new five-year farm bill.

“Using messages to Congress via social media, event locations and times, and an online petition, FarmBillNow.com gives both farmers and consumers the resources they need to make their voices heard, telling Congress that the farm bill needs to be completed before the current farm food law expires in September,” the coalition said in a news release.

Next Tuesday afternoon, farmers representing multiple groups within the coalition will discuss the Farm Bill Now effort at the annual Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, the nation’s largest outdoor farm show.

On September 12, the groups will gather on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol alongside members from the Senate and the House, as well as leaders from major farm and commodity groups, rural development, livestock, conservation, hunger, consumer and energy organizations to encourage Congress to pass the bill before programs expire at the end of the month.

Today, the group issued a statement titled “Why We Need a Farm Bill,” on the importance of new farm legislation for America’s farmers:

“Calling the farm bill the ‘farm bill’ suggests its impact is limited only to farms and to the rural areas to which they are so closely tied. It’s really a jobs bill. A food bill. A conservation bill. A research bill. An energy bill. A trade bill. In other words, it’s a bill that affects every American.

“The farm bill affects our nation’s ability to provide the necessities of life for a global population projected to pass 9 billion by 2050. Here at home, it affects an industry that provides 23 million — or one in every 12 — American jobs.
“The farm bill has broad impact on our citizens and our economy. It provides healthy foods to millions of schoolchildren and nutritious options to families in need. It develops and expands trade with valuable foreign markets. By reducing spending significantly compared to prior farm bills, the proposals pending right now in Congress address the need to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.

“And yes, it benefits American farms — 98 percent of which are owned and operated by families. It helps big farms and small farms, major crops and specialty crops, organic farmers and conventional farmers, cattle ranchers and cotton ginners, farmers markets and national suppliers, and the vast range of other pursuits that make up American agriculture. This year, it would help farmers tackle the challenges posed by the worst drought in a generation.

“While Congress waits to finish the farm bill, we are united in asking all Americans to encourage legislators — home for summer town hall meetings and speeches — to finish this vital legislation before the current farm and food law expires in September. After all, it’s your bill too.”

The following groups are members of Farm Bill Now:
  • 25x25 Alliance
  • Agricultural Retailers Association
  • American Beekeepers Federation
  • American Farm Bureau Federation
  • American Feed Industry Association
  • American Pulse Association
  • American Seed Trade Association
  • American Sheep Industry Association
  • American Soybean Association
  • American Sugar Alliance
  • Biobased Products Coalition
  • Council of State Governments East
  • Council of State Governments Midwest
  • Farm Credit Council
  • National Association of Wheat Growers
  • National Barley Growers Association
  • National Cattlemen's Beef Association
  • National Corn Growers Association
  • National Cotton Council
  • National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
  • National Farmers Union
  • National Milk Producers Federation
  • National Potato Council
  • National Sorghum Producers
  • National Sunflower Association
  • Northharvest Bean Growers Association
  • Northeast State Association for Agricultural Stewardship
  • Produce Marketing Association
  • Southern Peanut Farmers Federation
  • Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance
  • State Agriculture and Rural Leaders
  • United Dairymen of Arizona
  • United Fresh Produce Association
  • U.S. Canola Association
  • U.S. Dry Bean Council
  • USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council
  • USA Rice Federation
  • Western Growers Association
  • Western Peanut Growers Association