A broad base of agricultural, commodity and banking groups has sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives urging lawmakers to reject certain proposals that would substantially change new farm bill policies in the appropriations process.

The July 9, 2002, letter, was addressed to members of the House Appropriations Committee and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, states.

“We respectfully and strongly encourage you to reject any efforts to include provisions which substantially change the policies embedded in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (FSRIA '02) signed on May 13, 2002,” the letter said.

The groups pointed out that farmers and ranchers continue to be confronted with falling incomes and that USDA predicts net farm income will decline again in 2003.

“The new farm bill provides an enhanced, predictable financial safety net in times of low prices, but the addition of a counter-cyclical provision ensures federal funds are only made available when low market prices trigger financial assistance,” the letter said.

“Any changes in the levels and schedules of financial assistance will be detrimental to farm income and would surely undermine the confidence of lenders and suppliers. Farmers and ranchers must be given the opportunity to regain their footing and must be provided with a reliable safety net.”

Don Bransford, a Colusa, Calif., rice producer and U.S. Rice Producers' Group chairman said rice growers expected new challenges to farm bill spending would have to be faced in the appropriations reprocess.

“We knew at the time that the farm bill was signed into law that our efforts on behalf of the U.S. rice industry would continue,” he said. “Ensuring that new farm bill policies are not changed in the appropriations process is just one of the many challenges still ahead of us.”

The U.S. Rice Producers' Group is a charter member of the USA Rice Federation.

Other groups that signed onto the letter were: Alabama Farmers Federation, American Beekeeping Federation, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Association, American Soybean Association, American Sugar Alliance, Farm Credit Council, Independent Community Bankers of America, and the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Also, the National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Grain Sorghum Producers, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sunflower Association, North Carolina Peanut Growers Association, South East Dairy Farmers Association.

Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, U.S. Canola Association. U.S. Rice Producers' Group, U S Rice Producers Association, and the Western Peanut Growers Association.