Johanns talks up the farm bill

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns unveiled USDA's 2007 farm bill proposal last month, which includes more than 65 recommendations

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns unveiled USDA's 2007 farm bill proposal last month, which includes more than 65 recommendations. For more detail, visit www.usda.gov. Some highlights include:

Commodities:

  • End payment limits to individuals with more than $200,000 in adjusted gross income (about 2.3% of U.S. taxpayers) and limit payments to $360,000.

  • 1031 Exchange: Eliminate commodity program payments for all newly purchased land benefiting from a 1031 tax exchange.

  • Eliminate three-entity rule.

  • Counter-cyclical program will be based on revenue trigger — not price trigger.

  • Base loan rates on the last five years, removing high and low years, capped at 2002 House of Representatives-passed farm bill levels if necessary (wheat — $2.58/bu.; corn — $1.89/bu.; soybeans — $4.92/bu.; upland cotton — $0.5192/lb.; and rice — $6.50/cwt.

  • Posted county price (PCP): Replace the current daily PCP with a monthly PCP.

  • Increase direct payments.

  • Planting flexibility: Allow planting of fruits and vegetables on program crop acres.

  • Crop Insurance: Establish a revenue-based, counter-cyclical program providing gap coverage in crop insurance, link crop insurance participation to farm program participation.

Conservation:

  • Wetlands Reserve Program: Increase from 2.3 million to 3.5 million acres.

  • Consolidate cost-share programs into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and create a Regional Water Enhancement Program with an additional $4.2 billion.

  • Continue Conservation Reserve Program at the current acreage limit and focus on lands with the greatest environmental benefits. Give priority to whole-field enrollment for lands utilized for biomass production of energy.

Renewable Energy:

  • Bioenergy and Biobased Product Research Initiative ($500 million) to foster coordination of research efforts to continue improvements in crop yields and reduce the cost of producing alternative fuels.

  • $500 million for renewable energy systems and efficiency improvements grants. This program would support small alternative energy and energy efficiency projects that directly help farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses.

  • Provide $210 million to support an estimated $2.1 billion in loan guarantees for cellulosic ethanol projects in rural areas.

Trade:

  • Increase funding for Market Access Program by $250 million. The increase is only for specialty crops.