Washington Ag November 7, 2005 A diversity of crops and opinions were represented and presented at Agriculture Secretary Mike Johann's Farm Bill Forum at Eastern Washington University last week. Wheat growers in financial straits due to high fuel and fertilizer costs and a USDA commodity loan program they see as unfair to soft white wheat, asked for help. Nat Webb of Walla Walla was one of them.
Webb: "I would aks you to go back and please see what you can do to rectify some of the problems we are facing here because we are not going to survive into the next farm program if something isn't done.
Yakima apple and pear grower Charlie De Chappelle expressed excitement about the future for the fruit industry.
De Chappelle: " We request a balanced investment on specialty crops in the farm bill and ongoing R&D at USDA."
Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission noted that two-thirds of farmers receive little help under the current farm bill.
Voigt: "Potato growers do not want traditional farm programs and direct payments but need assistance in other areas that would be helpful for specialty crops."
Colton farmer Art Schulteiss was supportive of payments for conservation but said the new Conservation Security Program should be fully funded or eliminated by Congress.
Schulteiss: "To only offer this program to certain identified watersheds creates an uneven playing field amongst neighboring farmers."
The Conservation Reserve Program also came in for praise and criticism.
I'm Bob Hoff.