Monday, June 25, 2007

Interview with Ron Kind

The Blog for Rural America, which is the blog for the Center for Rural Affairs, has an interesting interview with and discussion about Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), who as they say, is "the most vocal and active House member pushing for major changes in the farm bill." Ron Kind has introduced FARM 21 and The Healthy Farms, Foods, and Fuels Act of 2007. FARM 21 has been receiving quite a bit of attention lately.

I am just learning what all this stuff means, and I barely understand it, so having something that is well written, accessible, and informative like this interview is quite helpful for me. Here are some excerpts:

The Center for Rural Affairs is NOT endorsing Kind’s legislation. However, we always like to evaluate all proposals on their merits, and we hope our elected representatives do the same. And on principle, we can say that we strongly condemn some of the political machinations encountered by Rep. Kind's legislation - every bill should receive equal and fair consideration. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way. While we are not endorsing, we must say that we enjoyed speaking with the Congressman. Given our experience with a few other politicians (who shall remain unnamed), Congressman Kind’s forthrightness and willingness to answer our questions was surprising and gratifying.

[ . . . ]

FARM 21 is the more significant of the two, and would completely upend current farm policy. It would move from farm payments based on production to a “farmer savings account” model. Using the money saved, FARM 21 would also provide substantial funding increases for conservation, rural economic development, local foods, and other priorities.

[ . . . ]

When talking to Rep. Kind, it becomes very clear that he is dead set on fundamental farm bill change and he will do what it takes to make that happen. He is not a “lone voice in the wilderness” for farm bill change, or some kook or crank insisting on some ideologically pure farm policy. He is working very hard to win, and rather than hold out for the “perfect” farm bill, he has crafted his proposals to appeal to the widest range of lawmakers possible.

[ . . . ]

Ultimately, the success of Kind’s push for FARM 21 depends on who can win the support of 218 House members- Ron Kind or House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson. But that doesn’t mean Kind will “lose” if FARM 21 doesn’t become the meat and potatoes of the 2007 Farm Bill. Simply the threat of a floor fight- and the knowledge of his near-success in 2002- will force Collin Peterson and the House leadership to pay attention to his proposals, and they may have to allow at least a few of Kind’s concepts to become part of the 2007 Farm Bill. If Kind plays his cards right he may gain passage of FARM 21, but even if he can’t win a straight floor vote on his entire bill he may be able to block the passage of a farm bill he and his supporters dislike. In the world of farm bill politics, that makes him a force to be reckoned with.

The emphases are mine, I took out theirs. The post is especially interesting for a beginner in this complicated world of politics such as myself. Check it out.

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