Farm Bill: So Far, So Good For Dry Beans
August 29, 2007
Along with her role as vice president and marketing director for Chippewa Valley Bean and Doane Ltd, Cindy Brown is active in national and international dry bean issues. Brown, who has a degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, has served as chair of the U.S. Dry Bean Council since January, 2006.
A key issue is the new farm bill, which figures to be pivotal for the U.S. dry bean industry. So far, so good, she says.
The House version maintains the fruit and vegetable (FAV) planting restriction for non-program crops on program crop acres the USDBCs number one farm bill priority. The dry bean industry may also benefit by new funding for specialty crops, and a program focused on bean-based health solutions aimed at boosting bean consumption.
The Northarvest folks have really been instrumental in the farm bill process. Working with (House Ag Committee Chair) Collin Peterson, theyve had input early on, Brown says. We still have the Senate side to work through this fall, then both bills to be conferenced and signed into law, but were really pleased with how things are going at this point.
Another key issue the USDBC is focusing on is urging lawmakers to maintain the current system of food/commodity donations for international food aid, rather than convert it to a cash-based assistance program. Brown testified in Congress earlier this year that some (such as U.S. export competitors) want the U.S. to move away from in-kind food aid donations. But politically, she says there is more support amongst the American public for direct food aid rather than a cash handout. And food aid not only helps manage oversupply, but helps promote the consumption of U.S. products such as dry beans overseas.
In a related issue, the USDBC is challenging a USDA decision to lower the moisture specifications for U.S. dry beans used for food aid, from 18% to 13.5%. Says Brown: Thats unreasonable, and prevents many of our elevators and handlers who dont have that drying capacity to participate in the food aid market. Tracy Sayler