Graves fights for improvements to farm bill
For U.S. Congressman Sam Graves, the first step in seeing
the new farm bill get passed into legislation came last
week with the House of Representatives' overwhelming support
of the bill.
Graves, who sat on the Ag Committee and the General Commodity
Sub-Committeethe two committees responsible for
preparing the farm billtook great initiative in
expanding the definition of value-added agricultural products
in the final version of the farm bill.
"This is the most important farm bill we've had
lately," said Graves. "This farm bill will not
only produce a safety net for low prices, but also constitutes
the largest jump forward in supporting value added agriculture."
The expansion of the definition of value-added agricultural
products includes physical segregation in the value-added
Agricultural Product Market Development Grant (VADG).
VADG is offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's
Rural Development program. It was authorized to encourage
independent producers of agricultural commodities to further
refine their products, increasing the value to end-users.
It is also intended to establish an information resource
center to collect, disseminate, coordinate, and provide
information on value-added processing to independent producers
"I was pleased that the conferees agreed to include
language that will offer greater incentives to producers
who want to increase the productivity and profitability
of their farms," stated Graves.
"As farmers, we would much rather depend on higher
prices than government programs," said Graves. "Ultimately
we're working for better commodities and higher market
While higher market prices remain the target goal, the
realization is that many times farmers face the struggle
of low prices.
After the last four years of having to await Congress'
approval for emergency funding when prices are at an all
time low, the new farm bill puts an end to the need for
The countercyclical program, which used to require Congress'
approval for emergency funding, now states that the emergency
program will automatically kick in once prices reach an
"In the past with the farm bill, farmers have had
to depend on Congress for supplemental funding, which
makes it harder for farmers to do long range planning
or to do anything," explained Graves.
"This change in the program is important to our
farmers because as farmers they need a safety net. There
are so many things out of their control like input, prices
and weather, that we have to provide them a safety net."
While the countercyclical program is not only important
to the American farmer, Graves also stated it's important
for the American consumer.
"This program change is also important to America
because we need food three times a day everyday, and we
need to ensure that that supply is there," stated
"In the U.S. we spend less than 10% of our disposable
income on food. Nowhere else in the world is food that
affordable as in the U.S.
"In the U.S. we have the luxury of taking our food
supply for granted, which is one thing that makes our
nation so great. One way we can do that is through a farm
program like this farm bill," continued Graves. "Agriculture
is the only industry that buys everything retail and sells
what is produced wholesale."
According to Graves, the farm bill will be put in front
of the Senate for its approval and then go in front of
President George W. Bush for his signature.
"After more than two years of House hearings, studies,
and meetings on this comprehensive agriculture policy
legislation, I believe we are presenting a bill to the
House and Senate that reflects the challenges that producers
will face in the years to come," said Graves.