Farm bill issues to be dissected at Purdue Ag Forecast

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A panel of Purdue University faculty and agricultural leaders will offer their insight Feb. 4 on the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis when they analyze issues that need to be settled when Congress writes the 2012 farm bill.

"The Future of Farm Legislation in U.S. Agriculture" will be the topic of discussion during the Ag Forecast, which precedes the Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association's annual Fish Fry. The Ag Forecast will be in the Grand Hall starting at 9:30 a.m. EST. The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists are:

* Roman Keeney, Purdue associate professor of agricultural economics.

* Mark Legan, a member of the National Pork Producers Council Board of Directors.

* Rick Tolman, chief executive of the National Corn Growers Association.

* Don Villwock, president of the Indiana Farm Bureau.

Moderator Mike Boehlje, distinguished professor of agricultural economics, said there will be much public debate over the fate of agriculture programs in the farm bill following the failure of the congressional "super committee" in November to agree on how to cut the nation's deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Of that amount, congressional agriculture committees had offered $23 billion in reductions in the five-year period the 2012 farm bill would cover.

"The issues are very timely because there was this thought that the super committee might capture farm policy as part of that debate. But that fell apart, so the issue of farm policy will be debated more openly now," he said.

Congressional leaders will have to decide which programs to eliminate or reduce - and by how much. They also will have to decide whether to move away from providing income support for farmers, such as with direct payments, and do more to help farmers manage their risks, a strategy that Boehjle said farm groups generally favor.

"It seems we are moving the approach more to a risk-management strategy rather than an income-enhancement strategy," he said.

Determining a farm bill will be especially complicated because of this year's presidential election, which could delay writing of the bill until next year.

"We're in a presidential election year and we don't know yet who we will have as the (Republican) candidates," Boehlje said. "Overarching the whole farm bill discussion becomes which party will be in control."

The Fish Fry will follow the Ag Forecast at 11:30 a.m. in the nearby Marsh Blue Ribbon Pavilion, with featured speaker Howard G. Buffett, a farmer and founder of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. He will speak on the growing need for global food security.

Information on Fish Fry tickets, parking permits and on-site child care is available at http://www.ag.purdue.edu/agalumni or by calling the Agricultural Alumni office at 765-494-8593. Tickets are $20 each.



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