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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2001

Illinois Voices Priorities for New Federal Farm Bill

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today released the final report of the Illinois Farm Bill Task Force, which outlines state priorities for new federal farm legislation.

"This report provides a strong, unified voice for Illinois agriculture, detailing what our state needs to ensure the vibrant health of our number one industry," Ryan said. "Producers, farmer organizations, food processors, environmental groups, agribusinesses and state agencies have all shared their ideas for a strong new farm bill. We will now take that message to Washington."

The Farm Bill Task Force was formed earlier this year to provide grassroots input addressing Illinois' concerns for the re-write of the 1996 Farm Bill. The final report lists specific recommendations for each of the Farm Bill programs including farm payments, environmental programs and food and nutrition programs.

"This is the most comprehensive look Illinois has ever taken at the Farm Bill," said Illinois Agriculture Director Joe Hampton. "As farmers, we don't always pay as much attention to the food and nutrition programs and world hunger programs. These initiatives are important to producers, however, because many of the beneficiaries of these programs are our future customers."

Hampton will travel to Washington, D.C. next week to share the task force report with Illinois' Congressional delegation and agriculture leaders in both the House and Senate.

Priorities detailed by the Farm Bill Task Force include:

  • A farm safety net based on counter-cyclical payments which allows flexibility in planting but provides protection for farmers in times of low prices.
  • Maintain the planting flexibility of the 1996 Farm Bill
  • Adoption of a Stewardship Payment/Block Grant program that emphasizes public benefit and provides incentives to landowners who implement practices that enhance the protection of land, water, air and wildlife.
  • Encourage efforts to remove barriers to world trade in agriculture, including granting trade promotion authority for the president, expanding Market Access Program funding and encouraging full utilization of food aid programs to provide food and nutrition assistance and education to needy countries worldwide.
  • Increase agriculture research funding to $1 billion annually with scheduled annual increases for at least five years.
  • Encourage the federal government to identify the economic impact of not upgrading the river transportation system, specifically addressing the effect on the competitive advantage of U.S. farmers in the global marketplace.
  • Various recommendations designed to enhance the food and nutrition programs of the farm bill, including maintaining oversight of the Food Stamp Program and related food and nutrition programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The complete report of Governor Ryan's Farm Bill Task Force can be viewed on the Illinois Department of Agriculture website.

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