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Other Opinions: Negotiation needed on Farm Bill

It is understandable that the Bush Administration is concerned about a Farm Bill that might subsidize millionaire farmers at a time when commodity prices are high. However, for the long term, it is important the President and Congress come to an agreement on a Farm Bill.

Similar to their concerns on other recent bills, such as the children's health services bill, White House officials are opposed to the $286 billion, five-year Farm Bill because some recipients might take unfair advantage of it. Indeed, if millionaires, or in some cases billionaires, who made their money in non-farming industries and bought farm or ranching land are receiving federal subsidies, the subsidies should be cut off.

However, such types of farmers are few and far between around here. In Otter Tail County, even the larger and more successful farmers -- when analyzing their financial picture as a whole -- are likely merely comfortable, and not wealthy.

As for high commodity prices, one needs only to look at the national housing market two years ago and compare it to today to realize how quickly the situation can change.

This area, and this country, cannot afford the kind of downward cycles the 1980s experienced. In addition, subsidies are still critical in competing on a level playing field with countries which still heavily subsidize their farmers.

Rep. Collin Peterson and Sen. Tom Harkin likely are willing to negotiate. For our area, let's hope President Bush is as well. -- Fergus Falls Daily Journal

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