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Learn about the 2012 Farm Bill today in Morris

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MORRIS - It looks like a new national farm bill could emerge in Washington in the days ahead, and the Center for Rural Affairs is giving people in Minnesota and the Dakotas a chance to get up to date on it.

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Traci Bruckner, assistant director of the Rural Policy Program at the Center, says that, as the so-called Congressional Super Committee is poised to release its budget cut recommendations by Thanksgiving, talk is now that a farm bill could be ready by November 1.

"So, no time like the present to be talking to people like Representative Collin Peterson, and letting them know that they want to make sure that this whole budget process on the farm bill doesn't eliminate all the funding that we have for rural development, because our communities need that support."

Peterson, though not a Super Committee member, is the ranking member of the powerful House Agriculture Committee.

Bruckner says local, state and federal farm policy is vital, and so is communicating with decision-makers.

"We're working with the Center for Small Towns, doing these meeting jointly. And we're going to be talking about the most effective ways to work with your member of Congress, the most effective way to communicate with them, and paying attention and being engaged in the debate."

Bruckner says among their biggest concerns are proposed reforms in the commodity program.

"They're possibly taking away direct payments and then replacing it with more of what they call a 'shallow loss revenue program.' But at the end of the day, they don't do anything to limit the amount of payments that mega-farmers get under these proposals."

Today in Morris and Wednesday in Moorhead, Bruckner says, workshops will be held to go over the latest farm bill developments and highlight the key issues.

More information is at www.cfra.org.

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