LETTER FROM AGRICULTURE SECRETARY MIKE JOHANNS & FARM BILL FORUM COMMENT SUMMARIES
The leadership of USDA traveled the country last year to hear the opinions of producers and other stakeholders about future farm policy. No one has said it better than President Bush in his greeting to those attending the forums. He said, "The Farm Bill is important legislation that meets real needs. The next Farm Bill should further strengthen the farm economy and preserve this way of life for farmers and ranchers of the future. Hearing your advice is an important step toward meeting these goals."
Many people participated in the 52 farm bill forums held throughout the United States, while others submitted comments through our website and through the mail. I was very pleased to personally host 21 of the forums. I enjoyed every one of those 66 hours of listening to the people whom we serve. All totaled, USDA received more than 4,000 comments throughout this process.
For me, there is no better way to understand the challenges and opportunities in agriculture than to be with and listen to the people whose lives are affected by the policies we enact.
USDA personnel have spent the past several months categorizing and summarizing the comments we received. The 41 summary papers featured below are the product of their work. Each paper contains three sections - one containing factual background on the topic of the paper, another summarizing general opinions expressed, and the third conveying specific, detailed suggestions that were conveyed to us.
These papers are strictly summaries of the opinions and suggestions of those who submitted public comment. These ideas will serve as the basis of USDA policy review and analysis as we prepare for the next farm bill.
I want to extend my sincere gratitude to all those who submitted comments. Thank you for making your voices heard and providing the foundation for USDA's exploration of the best course for future farm policy.