January 23, 2006 – Posted at 8:49 p.m. CST
JONESBORO, AR -- Even though legislators only recently began meeting to discuss this year's issues, some folks in the agriculture community are already turning their attention to the 2007 Farm Bill. The long process of getting the bill passed is beginning now, with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture holding sessions around the country to get feedback and input from constituents.
"What we are here to do, to accomplish is to listen to what the producers and farmers out there want in the new farm bill that's coming up. We're going to be listening to them and taking notes," said Vice President of Arkansas Farm Bureau Randy Veach.
Members of the Arkansas Farm Bureau Task Force met with Region 8's agricultural community Monday night at the Fowler Center on the Arkansas State University Campus. The issues addressed had a common theme.
"Any nation that puts in jeopardy its ability to feed it and clothe it's self is no longer secure and we find ourselves in that position today," said Representative Marion Berry to a crowded audience.
"If they raise the rice, soybean, cotton loans all of them across the board...how much can they raise them before the grain companies get to saying we can buy it overseas cheaper then we can bring them in," said concerned farmer Mikey Demenn of Bono.
Johnny Distreppi of Walcott was most worried about his operating costs, "In 2005 we made an excellent crop, we sold it for a pretty fair price, but our expenses almost doubled over 2004. Both the price of fuel and the price of fertilizer."
But rising costs weren't the only concerns for farmers....loan rates and disaster assistance were also big issues.
"With the climate of agriculture right now, we feel like it's very important to kind of stay on tope of what's going on. We hope things work out favorably," said farmer Dean Wall of Walnut Ridge.
Those in agriculture say they expect significant changes in the 2007 Farm Bill.
"Probably the new farm bill needs to have a broader scope in covering all of agriculture in the state," said Veach.
"Until it's finally finished, you don't know what you have, but hopefully you know which direction you are going and what we hope we can have so we can work towards it," said Distreppi.