The issue of universal—or near universal—health care has been in the news for much of the last year as the Obama administration has been seeking to fulfill a promise made on the campaign trail. The Senatorial election in Massachusetts, the State of the Union message, and the discussion between the President and the Republicans in Congress has forced a re-evaluation of how far health-care reform should go and what measures could be taken.

While health care issues take center stage about once every 20 years, it is an issue that we hear farmers talk about year-in and year-out. For many farmers, the concern is not universal coverage, it is their coverage and the coverage of their children who have come back to the farm or might be considering a return to farming.

This ongoing concern on the part of farmers caused us to think about the stake that farmers have in the current debate.

Some farmers or their spouses work for an employer who offers group health care coverage as a part of employment. At times, health care coverage is the primary reason for seeking off-farm employment and staying with it until Medicare kicks in.

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