A nationally-recognized ag economist is concerned farmers may, again, be the losers as Congress tries to wrap up work on a new Farm Bill. Dr. Neil Harl, an Iowa State University economist, says circumstances have changed in Washington. He says the downturn is deeper than anticipated and less revenue is flowing out as there are increased costs due to the terrorist attacks.Harl says there should be caps on the amount of federal payments any farmer or corporation can get. Harl’s disappointed lawmakers aren’t considering ways to curb big-business concentration in agriculture which makes it hard for small farmers to compete. He says the situation is serious enough that the concentration will make life “very, very difficult for producers.”Harl testified before the U-S Senate Ag Committee this fall and he’s monitoring developments closely. Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, hopes to have a Senate debate on the Farm Bill yet this year. Republicans and the Bush Administration are drawing up an alternative they’ll present at that time.
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