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"Three prominent farm advocates – John Gilliland, a trade attorney; Joe Outlaw, a professor at Texas A&M; and Brandon Willis, former USDA Risk Management Agency administrator – said here Wednesday that they are all preparing papers for farm groups to use to challenge the papers put out by the Heritage Foundation calling for an end to farm programs. All three told the International Sweetener Colloquium that they are offended by the way that Heritage writers take statistics from the Agriculture Department and use them to reach conclusions that they believe are not justifiable. Gilliland, a former Senate Finance Committee aide who is now an attorney with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, said Heritage has described the U.S. farm program as hurting U.S. negotiators’ attempts to reach new trade agreements. “The narrative is that the United States has not given enough at the table – and we need to push back on that,” Gilliland said. Over the last 20 years since the Uruguay Round went into office, there have been four farm bills written and “each one has made steps toward more market-oriented policies.”...Gilliland’s paper has been published on the website of Farm Policy Facts...Outlaw, who analyzes farm bill proposals for Congress as part of his work at Texas A&M, said he takes Heritage’s manipulation of USDA data “as a personal affront” to the way scholarship should be conducted...Heritage maintains that moving away from farm subsidies will free up agricultural producers to use their ingenuity and expertise, but Outlaw said the farmers need the protection of the farm program to be innovative. If Congress were to follow Heritage’s recommendations, he said, there would be a major drop in farm asset values and a loss of 80,000 jobs, half on the farm and half in related fields ranging from input suppliers to restaurants. Outlaw said he has been working on an analysis of Heritage’s views on portions of the farm bill. The paper will be released in September, he said, adding that he did not receive any outside money to pay for his work. Willis, who was in charge of the crop insurance program in the Obama administration, said that Heritage’s attitude seems to be that the way for farmers to handle risk management is to get an off-farm job...Heritage maintains the farm program has been a failure, but Willis said there have been major achievements with U.S. farm aid over the past century, including a massive increase in productivity and exports and, in recent years, a reduction in soil erosion. Willis’ paper is also scheduled for release in September."

Posted August 10th, 2017