Farm Bill an Opportunity to Reform Programs Causing Market DistortionsApril 26, 2007
Washington, D.C. – April 26, 2007 – The North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) called on Congress today to reform farm programs to reduce government-caused distortions of production decisions, reduce the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) by allowing sustainable acres back into production and to invest in research to give growers better crop options.
Wheat plantings have plummeted by 18 million acres in just the last 10 years, and the U.S. now harvests fewer wheat acres than it did in 1898. 2006 oat production was a mere 107 million bushels, the lowest since USDA began keeping records in 1866.
Rick L. Schwein testified in behalf of NAMA in a hearing before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. Schwein is senior vice president of Grain Millers, Inc. and NAMA’s Chairman. Schwein said, “Wheat and oat millers are willing to compete with processors of competing crops to encourage farmers to plant more of the cereal grains we need, but we cannot compete with the government-funded programs that have created massive distortions in planting decisions.”
“It’s ironic that the U.S. government, through the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, encourages consumers to eat more grains all the while the government farm programs discourage growers from producing those grains,” continued Schwein. “Meanwhile, production of dry peas and lentils has exploded in response to government subsidies, even though there is almost no U.S. market for them.”
Yesterday, Lynn Rundle presented similar testimony before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry in behalf of NAMA. Rundle is the Chief Executive Officer of 21st Century Grain Processing and a member of NAMA’s Board of Directors. 21st Century Grain Processing is a farmer-owned cooperative of 750 growers from Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Texas. “Biofuels production will require enormous acreage, so failure to significantly reform CRP will mean that reducing our dependence on foreign oil may result in increased dependence on foreign grain,” said Rundle.
NAMA is the trade association representing 48 companies that operate 170 wheat, oat and corn mills in 38 states and Canada. Their collective production capacity exceeds 160 million pounds of product each day, more than 95 percent of the total industry production.