Farming in 2003

January 6, 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 disaster assistance money. The Congress and the President will be looking for ways to keep a lid on spending. The federal budget deficit is real and not going away any time soon. Some people out here think farm programs in general are ripe for a big cut. I don't think so. Look at it this way. The Farm Bill uses only ½ of one percent of the total federal budget. That's not unreasonable. We produce the most abundant supply of food, the highest quality at the most reasonable price in the world. National defense uses 16% of the budget; social security, 23%; Medicare & Medicaid, 19%; and on down from there. Senator Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, still seems intent on lowering the payment limitation number. However, Senator Cochran chairing the Senate Ag committee does not like the idea. Someone to keep an eye on is Budget Co-Chair Senator Don Nickles. Expect Senator Nickels to be very tight on all spending.

I still point to the fact that rural America elected President Bush and rural America elected a Republican Congress, and that will not be overlooked.

Now that President Bush has trade promotion authority (fast tract), I expect an aggressive effort to make trade deals and resolve trade disputes. Finally, with all the industry uncertainty, we certainly don't want to forget the clouds of war hanging over us. Let's take on the New Year and see what it brings.