Farm Bureau president says Clinton ignored farm plight

Kansas Farm Bureau leaders said today last week?s State of the Union address by President Clinton showed how agriculture is lagging in the current economic boom.

?Saying our Union is the strongest it has ever been doesn?t resonate well with those of us in agriculture,? said Stan Ahlerich, KFB president. ?The ?new? economy the president says has been built does not have agriculture in the foundation.?

Ahlerich referred to the recent low prices of agriculture commodities and reduced agricultural trade overseas. He said it is ironic that this nation?s new affluence is partly because of agriculture?s efficiency, noting that less than 10 percent of disposable income in America is spent on food.

Ahlerich did say that some comments by the president were encouraging, including opening trade markets and expanding programs on bio-based fuels.

?We have always appreciated the administration?s open-trade policy, though much more emphasis is needed,? Ahlerich said. ?As far as bio-based fuels, we hope his effort is substantially more than we?ve seen in his first seven years.?

Recent reports have shown that the current oxygenate used in fuels, Methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), is becoming a serious pollution problem.

Ahlerich said that information should be another reason to bring grain-based ethanol into the mainstream as fuel for U.S. consumption.

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