One last thing and I’ll quit. If we burn down a city, we will rebuild it. If the farmer goes away, the city will go away. Think about it.
MODERATOR: Thank you, sir.
MODERATOR: State the next question.
MR. JOHN DOCTOR: Mr. Secretary, my name is John Doctor and I’m with the Midwest Forage Association. We represent forage producers in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and the great state of Nebraska. On behalf of those producers I would like to welcome you here today. We appreciate your presence.
Forage represents crops which we believe are under recognized when it comes to the Farm Bill and under appreciated when it comes to the environment. Not many people realize that the production of forages ranks third behind only corn and soybeans in terms of cash value in the United States. Since much of that production is consumed by livestock and never leaves the farm, forages and its contributions to agriculture tend to be overshadowed by other program crops such as wheat, corn, soybeans, and minor oil seeds.
Forages are also a critical component of animal agriculture, an industry which is vital to maintaining agricultural diversity and contributes more than $60 billion in farm sales annually to the nation’s economy. Maybe most importantly, considering the times we live in, they also reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. In fact, one crop of moderately thin alfalfa plowed down provides the equivalent of up to 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Enough to replace almost all of the fertilizer required by the next year’s corn crop. Therefore, we believe strongly that the crafting a new Farm Bill offers a unique opportunity to provide greater incentive for utilizing the environmental and conservational benefit of forages and that forages need parity with other leading crops. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: The next question for Secretary Johanns.
MS. SARAH BEDGER: (sp) Mr. Secretary, my name is Sarah Bedger. I originally grew up on a dairy farm in Maryland, so I share that experience with you. One of the main reasons that I’m not farming with my family in Maryland right now is because land values 45 miles from Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area are in the tens of thousands of dollars per acre.
I currently work as a dairy specialist for the University of Minnesota Extension Service and I work with many young farmers in this state and plan to marry a young farmer. So I would like to tell you that land availability was the number one concern in an annual survey of American Farm Bureau Federation young farmer and rancher members earlier this year. Starting farmers cannot outbid developers and those farmers