- One of the first things I would try to do would be to make a major over-haul of the current farm bill. By major I mean that I would cut out the "social programs" from the farm bill and allow it to focus completely on the nuts and bolts of farming, not the distribution of food (and other peoples money) to others. If this were done I would hope that people could look more objectively at some of the things in the farm bill that actually apply to farming instead of focusing on the social components.
- After that was taken care of I would take a major look at the current subsidy system and the incentive programs. Not only do I believe that we need to phase out our current love of paying people to own crop land, but I also think we need to look at the ramifications of paying people not to farm. There are lots of good programs that have a lot that can be beneficial (see the Conservation Securities Program), but there are too many loopholes in the programs that we have. For example, our land had been in CRP for 14 years. At the beginning it was seeded down with native grasses, which was great, but in the subsequent 14 years nothing has been done and because of that it has even begun to suffer a little.
- Here is the big pipe dream, but I would not allow larger seed companies and packers to influence policy. They are going to only be looking out for themselves (as they probably should), but we need a government that hears and sees all sides of the story. Like I said, this is a bit unlikely, but it is what I would do.
- I would build a program for agricultural education to be taught in schools. I know that our schools have enough to worry about already, but at some point our students need to learn where food comes from and how it is produced. If we can again have educated food consumers (I believe we did at one time) than agricultural policy and support will probably change for the better.
- I would require staff to have a intimate knowledge of life on the farm, not just fiscal principles. I wouldn't go so far as saying that they had to be farmers (I don't want to be closed minded), but I do think it wouldn't be too much to ask that they at least spend some time with farmers and get to know their needs, wants, and desires.
- Oh, and one more thing... I would give all of you guys positions in my office so that I would know that I at least had some people willing to think, and think outside of the box!
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
As Your New Ag Secretary...
It is about time that I actually take a few moments to throw out some ideas of what I would do if I was the incoming Agricultural Secretary. It is safe to say that many of these things have been mentioned in prior comments, but I think that says a lot about the similarities I have with a lot of this blogs readers when it comes to agriculture. Oh, and as your incoming Ag Secretary I would like this photo to be my official picture for all press releases :)