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Published December 16, 2009, 12:00 AM

ND Farm Bureau directors surely don’t speak for farmers

According to their Web site, the North Dakota Farm Bureau board of directors, in a statement of 2010 priorities, apparently following input from their recent state convention, adopted the following: “We believe that all government agricultural program payments should be eliminated.” ND Farm Bureau directors surely don’t speak for farmers

By: Charles Linderman, Carrington, N.D.

According to their Web site, the North Dakota Farm Bureau board of directors, in a statement of 2010 priorities, apparently following input from their recent state convention, adopted the following: “We believe that all government agricultural program payments should be eliminated.” What!? I thought that Farm Bureau supported the current farm program adopted in 2008.

Would not “all government agricultural program payments” include direct payments, commodity loans, loan deficiency payments (LDP) and crop insurance subsidies? These items add up to many millions of dollars to North Dakota farmers.

Direct payments have totaled more than $200 million per year for North Dakota farmers. Many farmers this year have low- protein wheat, which suffers huge discounts in the market. The government loan program offers an alternative to salvage a price that is not quite so disastrous. The LDP has helped durum wheat producers with more than

$76 million already this year in the face of depressed prices. Without crop insurance subsidies of 50 to 60 percent, adequate levels of coverage would be unaffordable to many, including those who purchase their crop insurance through a Farm Bureau agent. Good luck talking to your banker about a farm operating loan without adequate crop insurance coverage.

But wait. Maybe the Farm Bureau delegates and their state directors are not crazy after all. I did some searching and found that many folks actually agree with their dislike of farm programs. The Environmental Working Group, Environmental Defense Fund, and Heritage Foundation will all get a warm feeling knowing that the North Dakota Farm Bureau is on their side. They may even get the support of most urban congressmen and senators from both parties. Likewise, the editorial writers of The Washington Post, USA Today, and the New York Times will all be glad to know that at least the North Dakota Farm Bureau gets it, that federal farm program payments are an atrocity.

Thankfully, for those of us who still believe that the American family farm is an institution worth preserving, there is the North Dakota Farmers Union, the largest general farm organization in the state.

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