Common sense a battle on farm bill

When common sense prevails in the halls of government, there is cause for celebration in the streets. And why not make a big deal out of it and express our gratitude to those who helped make common sense prevail.

According to a news release, Rep. Jerry Moran announced Feb. 20 the Kansas Corporation Commission has released a new policy regarding its interpretation of interstate commerce. He met Feb. 19 with the KCC to discuss this matter.

KCC released its interpretation that commodity shipments within the borders of Kansas will not be considered interstate commerce unless there is clear evidence the shipper intends for the commodity to leave the state.

This change means that many farmers and ranchers who deliver agricultural commodities to local grain elevators and sale barns will not be subject to federal regulations.

Hence, my first ever, ?Good sense? award goes to Rep. Moran. Thank you, Congressman, for representing the farmers of Kansas and the people of Marion County.

On the Senate side, Sen. Pat Roberts is well known for speaking up for common sense in government. As the debate for the farm bill continues and the deadline for expiration of the 2002 farm bill extension approaches, Sen. Roberts continues to work for a farm bill that is equitable and protects the interests of the Kansas farmer.

As a member of the minority party, however, the senator can only do so much while the Democrats practice political brinkmanship against the threat of a presidential veto. Robert?s presence during these debates is vitally important as other senators attempt to modify the bill in ways that are economically harmful for most Kansas producers.

Three components must remain in the final draft. The direct-payment program must not be modified or eliminated. Second, the conservation title should remain as it now stands in the 2002 farm bill. Third, crop insurance support must remain as it is currently funded.

For his dedication to serve the needs of all Kansans and farmers everywhere, Sen. Roberts deserves our thanks.

Finally, what follows reflects my concern that common sense may not prevail in another arena of government. As commodity prices and supplies of wheat draw down to historical lows, voices are clamoring for a change in policy that does not serve the interests of Kansas farmers.

Recently, the milling and baking industry has been calling for a suspension of exports of wheat, citing financial hardship due to rising prices and difficulty in securing adequate supplies.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, the National Association of Wheat Growers writes, ?Responding to a short-term supply crunch by restricting exports would be ill-advised, counter to U.S. policy precedent and would undermine the reputation of our industry after years of investment in market development. We must give all our customers access to U.S. wheat, regardless of where they reside.?

The letter, signed by Darren Coppcock, NAWG chief executive officer, and Alan Tracy, U.S. Wheat president, repeated a common agricultural truism: the cure for high prices is high prices.

?Global wheat production will assuredly expand in response to these prices; this is the time-honored way for participants in a free market to recruit more wheat production,? the letter stated.

The letter also commented on questions about Conservation Reserve Program penalty-free contract ?early-outs,? which some suggest would increase acres available for cultivation. NAWG has not taken a formal position on the early-out issue, but NAWG members, including wheat growers from Kansas, generally believe existing contracts should be honored.

If the reader desires to communicate with our elected representatives, refer to the contact list on the Opinion page of the Free Press. Rep. Moran and Sen. Roberts, as well as Sen. Sam Brownback, need to hear from you and they value your opinion.

Common sense does matter to them.

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