By Carol Stender
Congressman Collin Peterson wanted feedback on farm bill proposals and farmers delivered it during a series of six farm bill update meetings held throughout the 7th District.
Many farmers at Peterson's Fergus Falls stop supported his proposal for target prices.
The Senate decided to get rid of target prices and counter-cyclical payments in its farm bill language in favor of a revenue average crop payment system.
Target prices were set by the supercomittee at $8.31 for soybeans, $4.95 for barley, $2.40 for oats, $3.64 for corn and $5.50 for wheat, Peterson said.
Underwood farmer Lance Peterson, not related to the congressman, shared his concerns.
"Agriculture has had a good run recently," Lance Peterson said. "It isn't something that will last forever. We are concerned with linking target prices with the actual planted acres."
Senate members are concerned that farmers will change what they plant if the target price/counter-cyclical payment goes away.
"If we can keep them in relation to each other, I don't see the shift," the congressman said. "We have tried to not take these target prices so they cover your cost of production. We are looking at tweaking it so people are comfortable. Even if prices went down, I don't see a big shift. People have their equipment and rotation set up on their farm for what works for them."
Peterson said he doesn't see Congress approving another base acre deal.
"People don't understand why we are paying for what people aren't doing," he said. "We are trying to get a safety net in place. We understand your concerns and will keep looking at it."
Concerns about limiting crop insurance subsidies was evident in Fergus Falls.
"People are after us on direct payments and now want to limit crop insurance subsidies," he said. "You limit crop insurance if you do that."
Poultry producer Amon Baer is concerned about California's law calling for the use of colony crates for birds. That state is pushing for the regulation to go nationwide, which will mean higher costs for all chicken producers. To accommodate the larger crates, chicken producers would need to build larger buildings.
Peterson doesn't anticipate such language in the final House bill.
"I am against the federal government telling people how to raise chickens," he said.
Can the farm bill pass given the current make up of the House?
Yes it can, he said. He's talked with many freshmen representatives about agriculture.
"I can see the path to get there," he said.
The House ag committee isn't partisan, he said. Peterson called it the only committee in Congress that hasn't been caught in the partisan fight.
"I think this election will make things worse," he said. "It's driving the Republicans more to the right and Democrats more to the left."
Peterson also hosted farm bill updates in Crookston, Hallock, Melrose, Olivia and Pipestone.
He anticipates the farm bill being passed by the Senate and House before the August recess.