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Texas Agriculture Archive

February 6, 2004


Farm program in budget's bulls eye

Amid mounting federal budget concerns and agriculture policy squabbles, Congress could be tempted to make some major farm program spending cuts, and producers could be forced to make some tough choices.

William O'Conner, majority staff director with the House Agriculture Committee, shared those insights into the 2004 congressional session during the American Farm Bureau Federation's 85th annual meeting and convention.

O'Conner reported 2002 farm bill provisions are now "pretty well in place," and suggested that "by and large, they're working pretty well," and have been less costly than anticipated.

O'Conner predicted that this fall the House Ag Committee would begin considering the direction of farm program policies following farm bill expiration in 2007.

However, he noted the United States now is "back where we were in the '80s and '90s," with heavy military and domestic spending and reduced federal revenues resulting from a recent, substantial recession. He warned that "we may very well have farm bill activity before we do the next farm bill."

O'Conner predicted that ag lawmakers this year likely would eye proposals for new farm payment caps and other program changes "that sound very good, but yet have very complicated impacts for farmers." He expects Congress to consider comprehensive budget reconciliation legislation well before the next farm bill debate, though probably not in 2004.

"While it was clear to people in agriculture that members of Congress who represent farmers felt we needed the money we got in this last farm bill, there are a lot of people who have not forgotten how much money we got," he said. "I have a feeling we have a very big bull's eye slapped on agriculture when it comes time to spending money out of the budget."

Turley wins Discussion Meet

Darren Turley, a second generation dairyman from Erath County, won the Discussion Meet Contest at the recent TFB state convention. Turley edged out three other finalists: Jay Davis of Johnson County; Theresa Monk, Grayson County; and Cheramie Viator of Robertson County. The Discussion Meet is a round-table discussion designed to help contestants develop their presentation and problem-solving skills. As winner, Turley received: One year's use of a Kubota M Series tractor (45-65 h.p.) (2 wheel or front wheel assist), courtesy of Kubota; Arctic Cat 500 4X4, courtesy of SFB Life; $500 cash award from Dodge; and a plaque representative of the award. Turley competed in national competitions at the AFBF convention in Hawaii, along with Outstanding Young Farmer & Rancher winner Donnell Brown and Excellence in Agriculture Winner Chad Hobbs.

TDA seeks Rural Heroism candidates

The Texas Department of Agriculture is now accepting nominations for TDA's 2003 Rural Heroism Award.

Candidates must have performed a heroic, lifesaving act within Texas during 2003.

The heroic deed should be related to farming or ranching and occur in a rural area. Automobile accidents or accidents caused by negligence will not be considered.

Nominations should include a written account of the incident and the names, addresses and telephone numbers of everyone involved. If available, newspaper clippings and photographs should accompany all nominations.

Nominations must be postmarked by Feb. 16, 2004 and mailed to Lola Lemmon, TDA Safety Coordinator, Texas Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 12847, Austin, Tex. 78711. For additional information on qualifications, you can contact Lemmon at (512) 475-1611.

The 2003 recipient will be announced March 22 at the Texas Safety Association's annual conference at the Omni Hotel in San Antonio.

Isom named as head of TSSWCB

Charles "Rex" Isom has been named executive director of the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.

He will be responsible for coordinating the programs and activities of Texas' 217 soil and water conservation districts along with conducting the state's agricultural and silvicultural nonpoint source pollution abatement programs.

Notable Quotables

"It is because of the agency's vigilance that the United States has avoided until recently a case of mad cow disease. And when the case arose, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and the experts at her disposal were able to prevent widespread distribution of the meat, as well as public hysteria. The USDA took extraordinary precaution by issuing the recall of the meat and has begun putting further safeguards into effect."

A published letter to the New York Times by AFBF President Bob Stallman, responding to an article that suggests that USDA should promote beef while a new agency ensures food safety.