Farmers weigh in on farm bill - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Farmers weigh in on farm bill

March 28, 2006

Valdosta - Farmers from all over Georgia packed VSU's Pound Hall Auditorium Tuesday to share their concerns on the 2007 Farm Bill. "Its sort of crazy if you're in farming and not at this hearing," said Fred Wetherington, Farmer.

It's a rare chance to come face to face with a panel of U.S. congressmen, and let them know what parts of bill they think need a little fine-tuning. Such hearings are typically held in Washington, but this time, lawmakers are taking the case to those who are impacted most. "We've got to put ourselves in the position of the farmer," said Congressman David Scott.

There are countless issues of concern facing farmers.  One that's fresh on their minds now is illegal immigration laws. They're asking the committee to cut out some of the red tape and paperwork when it comes to hiring immigrants for farm labor. "Many farmers make the decision to hire illegals because if you hire legals, the paperwork is so complicated, they won't hire them," said Scott.

They're also asking for mandatory country of origin labeling to give U.S. farmers a competitive edge. "A lot of folds that walk down the grocery store aisles, if they saw produce from the USA versus wherever, they might be willing to pay a little more for an American grown tomato versus a South American one," said Wetherington.

Other matters of concern include government loan policies, and exploring alternative sources of fuel for farmers. "We don't control the price of our final product, so we can't pass that energy cost on like a lot of other businesses," said Wetherington.

It's a way of life that's been passed through generations, and one they hope to pass on to their children. But to do that, they need support from the government.  "We might be looking at other things to do if we don't get their help," said Donal Chase, Farmer.

They're hoping lawmakers will remember the stories shared on Tuesday when it comes time to approve the 2007 Farm Bill.

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