Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham hosted a roundtable discussion with farmers today in Colo, kicking off a weekend trip to Iowa that’s focusing on agriculture. Graham, a Florida Senator, will do chores tomorrow on a Warren County farm in one of his “workdays.” Graham grew up on a Florida dairy farm, and Graham says he was active in the family business ’til he was elected Governor of Florida. Graham says he’s “very anxious” to get to know the farmers of Iowa and hear their concerns. Graham believes federal farm policy should be retooled.Graham says farm programs should aim to buttress small, family farms, and trade barriers in other countries that block American-grown, genetically-modified grains need to be torn down. With his dairy background, Graham is concerned about the changes brought about by the new Farm Bill. Dairy farmers used to have regional pricing compacts but now are on a national system. Graham says dairy farmers aren’t making a profit, and that part of the Farm Bill needs to be reviewed by the U-S-D-A and Congress. Graham is also concerned about the level of concentration in livestock production — and Smithfield Farms’ proposed acquisition of Farmland. He says lack of competition will hurt not only farmers but consumers. Graham has started an on-line petition — at www.bobiniowa.com — which will be presented to the Justice Department, which is reviewing the Smithfield/Farmland deal. Graham will visit Colo over the noon-hour today. Tomorrow, he’ll work on the Middleswart Farm near Indianola.
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