Senators get farmer's advice on farm bill - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Senators get farmer's advice on farm bill

June 23, 2006

Albany -- The first regional hearing on the 2007 Farm Bill was held Friday morning in Albany.   Dozens of South Georgia farmers answered Senator's questions about their crops and livestock,   as work begins on the bill that will shape the future of agriculture across the nation.

 A new Farm Bill matters to you, to produce the food you put on your table. To the producer, it's his job and future. Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss, the Chairman of the Senate Agricultural Committee, held the first of a series of farm bill hearings to be held across the U.S., in Albany,to hear it straight from farmers. Senator Saxby Chambliss said "These are the folks that I know. These are folks involved in production agriculture in our part of the state. They are very representative of agriculture across the Southeast."

Dozens of South Georgia farmers were there. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, working on his sixth farm bill, said this is the best way to do it. Senator Pat Roberts said "Sit down with farmers, sit down on the wagon tongue with them, look them in the eye, and say hey, what do you need, what are your suggestions."

 Farm leaders representing various crop groups told the Senators their needs. Nikki Newberry, the daughter of a Wilcox County farmer, and an Ag student at the University of Georgia said "Agriculturists are stewards of the land. Stewards who want their land they cultivate and the natural resources on their land preserved."

Then the Senators asked tough questions,mostly about how to pay for farm programs during tough budget times. Senator Chambliss said "We simply don't have the money. So we are going to have less money to spend, we're going to have to spend it more wisely."

Most of the farmers said rising fuel costs and competition from cheaper foreign crops were squeezing their chance of making a profit.

The Senators say this information is what they need to make tough policy decisions. Chambliss said "It's important that we protect all of American agriculture, and these guys today have done a great job."

Most farmers said this hearing will help. Tim McMillan of Enigma said "I think they are listening to us. They are taking it seriously, and I think they are going to take back some ideas to Washington from what they hear today."

 Next month more hearings on the Farm Bill will be held in Pennsylvania and Missouri, then on to Iowa and two other Western States.

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