Date of this Version
In this congressional session, there is expected to be much discussion about reworking the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (commonly referred to as the Freedom to Farm Act). This act is set to expire in 2002. Thus, new legislation will likely begin to be written this session. Federal farm policy has significant implications for all of rural Nebraska. Given this importance, how do rural Nebraskans feel the farm bill should be structured? How do they feel about farm program payments? Do they support payment limitations? How do they feel about other specific provisions that could be included in the bill?
This report details results of 3,199 responses to the 2001 Nebraska Rural Poll, the sixth annual effort to take the pulse of rural Nebraskans. Respondents were asked a series of questions about federal farm policy. Comparisons are made among different subgroups of the respondents, i.e., comparisons by age, occupation, region, etc. Based on these analyses, some key findings emerged:
• The majority of rural Nebraskans favor keeping farm program payments. Seventy-five percent said they did not favor totally eliminating farm program payments, while 25 percent favored the elimination of such payments.
• Older respondents, males, persons with lower educational levels and non-farm households were the groups most likely to favor eliminating farm program payments.
• The majority of rural Nebraskans favor farm program payment limitations. Seventy-three percent of those in favor of keeping farm program payments said there should be a limit on the amount of program payments each farm household can receive per year.
• Farm households had a higher average payment limit than did non-farm households. Farm households believed, on average, that farm households should be able to receive up to $61,277 per year. In contrast, non-farm households had an average limit amount of $36,579.
• Over one-half of rural Nebraskans believe that farm program payments should not be designed to provide support only to a certain size of farm. Fifty-nine percent did not advocate such a system, while 41 percent supported this concept.
• Over one-half of rural Nebraskans support the following federal farm bill provisions:
- a short-term conservation reserve type program,
- prohibiting livestock feeding by meat-packing firms,
- a moratorium on mergers and acquisitions involving large agribusiness firms and
- basing farm payments upon conservation practices.
• Over seventy percent of the farm households supported the prohibition of livestock feeding by meat-packing firms, a moratorium on mergers and acquisitions involving large agribusiness firms and the option to enter a short-term conservation reserve type program during times of surplus grain carryover.