U.S. Congressman Steve King of Kiron will be in Nebraska City Saturday morning to a attend the next in a series of hearings being held on the future of the nation’s farm policy. The process of writing a new Farm Bill for 2007 is to go around the country, King says, and hold hearings with members of the federal Ag Committee there to hear input from the people in the region. Congressman King sits on the House Ag Committee and three sub-committees. Two hearings have already been held in what King called “Cotton Country,” North Carolina and Alabama. He says there were two consistent messages that came out of those gatherings. “Extend the farm bill, don’t change it, we like it the way it is,” was the first message, King says. He adds the second message was that the cotton growers in North Carolina and Alabama don’t want any change in caps on the crop subsidy payments they get.
The Iowa congressman says he can’t say he agrees, but “that’s the consensus at least so far.” King says extending the current farm bill would be the easy answer but with international trade issues to consider, it’s not the only answer. He says questions that need to be answered include how to engage in foreign trade, get Europeans to reduce domestic subsidies King says are four-to-one the size of those in the U.S., and how to make access to foreign trade a program that’s market-driven rather than program-driven. King says farm bill hearings will be held around the country through August.
Then he says they’ll go into hearings at the Capitol and work through the plan from September through November, then early in 2007 probably pass a bill in the House and send it over to the Senate for them to work through. Saturday morning’s farm bill hearing will take place at 9 AM at the Lied Conference Center in Nebraska City, which is on the state border by the Highway 2 bridge from Iowa.
He says people from all over the area can come see the process and have a chance to visit with committee members, so he encourages Iowans to take the short trip. One of those scheduled to testify at the hearing is former Iowa Farm Bureau president Ed Wiederstein of Audubon. He attended a farm bill hearing in Stockton, California, yesterday (Thursday).