Sunday, April 5, 2009

Do this now, it's more important then you think

NEW UPDATE

We regret to inform you that Dan McGlynn has been on vacation since Thursday. Unfortunately, due to the high volume of responses, Mr. McGlynn's USDA email box has exceeded capacity. This is highly unusual, but a testament to our successful efforts.

As this is the last day for the comment period on payment limitations and many of you have expressed concern that your voice is not being heard, the USDA has provided an alternative email address to send your comments.

Please send you comments to: Dan McGlynn via Mara Villegas at: mara.villegas@wdc.usda.gov



Oops the email address for Mr. McGlynn was incorrect I have corrected it here.

Act Now to:

Close the Millionaire Corporate Farm Subsidy Loophole

If you care about family farmers having equal access to opportunities and the land you need to act in the next 48 hours. The USDA is taking comments on the farm payment limitation rule until the end of Monday, April 6, 2009, so send yours in now (a sample letter is provided below or here on our website).

In his (non)state of the union speech, President Obama courageously brought up one of the most contentious issues from the 2008 Farm Bill debate when he called for ending "direct payments to large agribusinesses that don't need them."

As part of his 2010 budget, the President proposed phasing-out direct payments in an attempt to save $9.8 billion over 10 years. Currently direct payments, which total $5.2 billion a year, are paid regardless of crop prices and are not tied to need.

This means: Even in times of high commodity prices, corporate farmers still get a paycheck from the government.

End Unfair Subsidies Now!

In mentioning unfair agribusiness subsidies, the President let supporters and agribusiness know that he’s serious about defending the rights of family farmers and giving them access to fair market conditions.

Today’s current subsidy system allows large corporate farms to take advantage of subsidy loopholes that place independent family farmers at a serious competitive disadvantage.

Because of loosely written management and labor requirements in the Farm Bill, corporate farmers are allowed to use multiple partnerships, passive investors and sham “paper” farms to funnel huge multimillion dollar annual subsidy payments to corporate entities that don’t do any real work on the farm, but use the ownership as an entitlement to bilk payments from the government.

As a result, giant corporate millionaire “farmers” are driving independent family farmers off the land, using their ill-gotten gains, supplied courtesy of taxpayers, to outbid small, midsized and new farmers who want to buy or rent new crop ground.

Please act now to help end the corporate farm bailout.

Best,
Dave

If you’d like to see Food Democracy Now!’s grassroots work continue, please consider donating as little as $10 or $25.

COMMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE CLOSE OF BUSINESS APRIL 6, 2009

Send an email to Dan McGlynn at the USDA: dan.mcglynn@wdc.usda.gov Sample Letter – (Please cut and paste)

Mr. Dan McGlynn
FSA-USDA
Stop 0517, Room 4754
1400 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20250-0517
Emailed to: dan.mcglynn@wdc.usda.gov
or FAX to: 202-690-2130

RE: Comment on Farm Program Payment Limitation Rule, Federal Register, Vol. 74, No. 23, February 5, 2009

Dear Mr. McGlynn,

I appreciate President Obama’s courageous call for subsidy reform and stand firmly behind his decision to end "direct payments to large agribusinesses that don't need them." By reforming the rules on subsidy payments to farmers, this Administration can finally create a level playing field for independent family farmers that allows them to thrive, and grows opportunities for rural America and midsized farms.

In order to do this, I encourage the USDA to close the biggest payment loophole available under the current rules by providing a strong and effective definition for those “actively engaged in agriculture”.

Currently, wealthy corporate “partners” with minimal management involvement, in some cases, as little as two conference calls per year can qualify for payments. I urge you to correct this problem.

For those who qualify solely by providing active personal management and no personal labor, the rule should require that person to:

1. Provide at least half of the total management required to run the farm; or
2. Provide at least half of the total management that would be necessary to conduct a farming operation commensurate in size with his/her requisite share of the operation.

Closing the “actively engaged in farming” management loophole will strengthen family farms and rural communities and help restore integrity to a program which is rife with abuse.

Sadly, for decades, both Republican and Democratic Administrations have allowed this abuse to continue. This Administration, which campaigned on commodity program payment reform, needs to end business as usual, clean up the system, and restore good government. Enacting a quantifiable test for farm management is the best place to start.

Sincerely,
[Your name & city here]

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