U.S. Ag Secretary Mike Johanns and some of his top lieutenants hit the road to promote new USDA proposals for the 2007 farm bill. Johanns was in Des Moines Wednesday evening to outline his farm bill proposal and Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey says it’s a good one for the Hawkeye State.
Northey says it does a nice job of using existing framework and adding improvements though he is eager to see more details. Iowa Soybean Association President Ray Gasser agrees – and says the USDA’s approach will likely appeal to Iowa growers because it doesn’t stray too far from the 2002 blueprint.
Gasser says farmers will be "fairly comfortable" with the proposals as at "first blush" it looks pretty close to what’s come before. But how will Congress react? So far – favorably. Just ten days ago, House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson told the Ducks Unlimited national convention in Des Moines that the Bush administration seemed to be on another planet when it came to the next farm bill. But after hearing the USDA’s farm bill recommendations, Peterson says he can at least accept some of the proposals. Senate Ag Committee
Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa says much the same thing. Meanwhile, Johanns promised the crowd of around 250 in Des Moines that the 2007 farm bill debate won’t degenerate into political bickering. Johanns says there will be lively debate on policy but politics won’t enter into it as "we’re all interested in the same goals." One thing everyone seems to agrees with – by presenting a truly comprehensive proposal, Johanns will be engaged in the farm bill debate more actively than any Secretary of Agriculture since Clayton Yeutter – who held the post during the administration of Bush the elder.