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Bioenergy and the structure of safety net programs are of high interest to farmers and ranchers as the next farm bill is debated, according to more than 15,000 farmers and ranchers in 27 states surveyed by Farm Foundation’s National Public Policy Education Committee (NPPEC). The survey was released today as part of Farm Foundation's 2007 Farm Bill Forum.
Producers ranked renewable energy, enhancing opportunities for small and beginning farmers, and assuring a safe and affordable food supply as their top three goals for the next farm bill. “All the goals presented to producers to rank were decades-old rationales for farm programs with the exception of bioenergy, an issue that has seen explosive growth in recent years,” says Dr. Brad Lubben of the University of Nebraska, who chaired the task force conducting the National Agricultural, Food and Public Policy Preference Survey.
Bioenergy production incentives, followed closely by food safety programs, head the list of programs producers would target for new or reallocated funding. When asked to rank existing programs that should continue to receive funding, farmers and ranchers put disaster assistance programs at the top of the list, followed closely by other safety net tools and some conservation programs.