energy is the same in the United States. If the sun shines on a green leaf, photosynthesis, it’s brand-new money. This is not a Farm Bill. This is a bill for the United States of America. It’s brand-new money. And if anybody knows anything about economics, any time you bring new money into an economy it’s fantastic.
Now, we talk about competition from Brazil or someplace. They’re not our competition. They farm and we farm. What I’m worried about is we do not do the research on our projects to keep us ahead of Brazil. If we are going to stay the way we are and let Brazil catch up, we have failed. There are research parts to this 2002 Farm Bill in the Institute of ag or where we’re going and there’s a part that we’re putting together called, “Knife of the National Institute of Farm and Agriculture” which can keep us ahead of the world. And we are going to have to stay ahead if we are going to move in the United States. We don’t want to stay where we are. I like our program, I like the 2002 Farm Bill, it’s fantastic and it’s bipartisan. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you for your comments, Gerald. Go ahead, please.
MS. KRISTIN STANKISON: (sp) Thank you. Thank you again for coming to tropical Minnesota. I am Kristin Weeks-Stankison (sp), a farmer from Mapleton (sp), Minnesota, south-central Minnesota.
Just a couple of comments about the competitiveness -- I’ve been in line for so long, I forgot how to talk -- competitiveness question that you raised in the six question put out by USDA. As the U.S. is no longer the low-cost producer of some of the basic commodities, I think we need to look at some ways that we can counteract the lower cost of land and labor in our developing competitors and look at the fact that other governments often manipulate currency exchange rates to the benefit of their farmers.
Just a few things to keep in mind as we look at those things is that we need to continue to provide a safety net of income and price support so that when a price falls below the target or historical levels, that we minimize or avoid making payments when prices are high. So more of a safety net.
Under such a countercyclical payment approach, producers are protected by a farm safety program that could be adversely affected by trade barriers or competitor countries maneuvering currency rates. As allowed under the WTO, I think the marketing loan should be continued as much as the WTO allows. I think we also need to consider what direct or fixed payments do to capitalization of land prices and land rents, and staying away from that may be the way to continue to keep those things in check.
As others have talked about before, continued funding for ag research helps us stay competitive, whether it be lowering cost of production, introducing new commodities that can be sold as part of more energy availability and those kind of things also help us to stay competitive.
Also keeping in mind providing more funding or additional funding as we join together in co-ops to work our way up the value chain and through value-added products. So thank you and we again appreciate you coming to Minnesota.