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Dorgan: Farm bill a 'priority' in the next session

By Dave Thompson

Fargo, ND – North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan says he hopes that -- once Congress reconvenes later this month, it will pass farm legislation with an adequate safety net for farmers.

The House passed its version of the bill, but the Senate's bill stalled because of a filibuster. Dorgan said he believes a safety net should be "counter-cyclical," designed to kick in when prices collapse.

"When the market collapses, and farmers take a load of grain to the elevator, and the farmer is told, 'This grain that you've produced, this food that you have doesn't have value' -- I mean, this is a world where 500-million people go to bed every night with an ache in their bellies, 'cause it hurts to be hungry -- and our farmers are told their food has no value -- I mean, that doesn't make any sense at all. Yet that's what happens in the current market system."

Dorgan rejects arguments that the proposed farm bill would encourage over-production.

"I don't think it washes to say if you try to provide a decent safety net for family farmers, that somehow you encourage over-production. What we're trying to do is encourage people, so that they can make a decent living on the farm, if they work hard, and if the market prices collapse, we'll have a support level that at least gives them a chance to make a living."

Dorgan says he hopes a new farm bill will take the best elements from both the House and Senate versions.