Horse Slaughter

January 30 2008

When I was Secretary of AgricuIture, the European Union delisted all of our meat packing plants, claiming that they needed to reinspect and recertify them.The real truth wasn't that our plants were in any way inferior totheirs. No! They just had too much meat in Europe and didn't want ours. After about 2 years, they certified 9 of our plants. They were all horsemeat plants. The French just couldn't get enough horsemeat. So -- we resumed shipping horsemeat to Europe.

But, that was 20 years…


Federal Crop Insurance

November 1 2006

When the next farm bill is written, everything will be in the spotlight. Some might say in the cross hairs for elimination. Federal Crop Insurance will not be an exception.

The federal government pays 60% of farmer premiums for their crop insurance. With a bad crop, insurance will pay a farmer as much as 95% of the income he would get from an average crop. If you are farming marginal land, that is a deal that is hard to refuse. The result -- farmers plant land that would be otherwise left…

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The Farm Bill

August 25 2005

Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns has been listening and talking to farmers, focusing more than anything, on the next farm bill. He has been a big hit with his constituents. He is relaxed, at home, and can speak our language. I am encouraged because when the next bill is written, I expect the Secretary to be in the middle of the negotiations, and that is good. In fact, I was talking with him this morning, he is looking forward to being an active player in writing the next bill.


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Washington Politics

June 23 2004

I can't remember a time in this town when there was so much political mud wrestling going on. We can't pass any legislation on to the President's desk because inevitably some one in the Senate will object and filibuster. It takes 601 votes to shut down a filibuster and that's almost impossible to get. The rules in the House of Representatives are different. They can limit debate and force a vote. In fact, the House has stacked some 70 bills on the doorstep of the Senate where they just sit…

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Farming in 2003

January 6 2003

Closing out the books on 2002 and starting to focus on the New Year. What will it bring? Will the Congress cut our farm bill supports? Will the long sough after 2002 disaster relief that wasn't in the Christmas stocking yet appear? Will we suffer draught or floods or another chicken embargo? I guess if we knew all ofthese answers, we wouldn't have to work.

I realize some farming regions struggled with devastating drought last year. Still, I doubt that the congress will find very much…

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Gun Control

August 22 2000

I may sound a little different today, but I'm talking to you by telephone from a ranch in Colorado. There is a touch of fall in the air, crisp and clear. After 4 days of riding horses and shooting guns -- just a little target practice. All of this brings back childhood memories to me -- back to the day when I rode my pony (Spot) to school. Raced behind my dog (Butch) through the timer land as he rushed to tree a squirrel. With my sling shot or single shot 22 rifle, we might be lucky enough to…

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Federal Budget Surplus

July 4 2000

President Clinton has been making a big thing out ofthe bulging budget surplus. Vice President Gore has been trying to take credit for the surging economy. Members of Congress are talking about the windfall. It's like we just won the lottery. This is terrific. And after all of those years of budget deficits. But if indeed the federal government is going to have 4.2 trillion dollars more than needed to meet our obligation over the next 10 years, what should be done with the money?

That's the…

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June 27 2000

Many of the pundits have been saying that this would be a "do nothing Congress". That political gridlock would close the door on any meaningful legislation. So far that has not been the case at all. Let" just take inventory ofwhere we are with a list of bills that might have been little more than a dream a few months ago. For years the Congress went through the annual charade of voting normal trade relations for China.

The energy expanded every year was enormous. This year we passed…

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Freedom to Farm

April 25 2000

Recently I was asked to testify before the House Ag Committee. The subject: the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act, better known as Freedom to Farm. The hearing was well attended, chaired by House Ag Committee Chair Larry Combest and backed by Congressman Charlie Stenholm and several other farm state congressmen.

My message to them was simple. With the low farm prices that we have experienced, Freedom to Farm has been an easy target for criticism.

Yet, we should not…



March 21 2000

I think it was all we could hope for! Last week the Clinton Administration committed itself to phasing out M+BE, a gasoline additive that although cleaning the air, has contaminated ground water and wells. Carol Browner, administrator EPA, said the government decision should encourage the use of ethanol and other safe bio-fuels in gasoline.

Admittedly the EPA announcement does not immediately get rid of M+BE. The announcement hands off to Congress the responsibility to write legislation to…

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