USDA Secretary Mike Johanns unveiled USDA's 2007 farm bill proposal last month, which includes more than 65 recommendations. For more detail, visit www.usda.gov. Some highlights include:

Commodities:

  • End payment limits to individuals with more than $200,000 in adjusted gross income (about 2.3% of U.S. taxpayers) and limit payments to $360,000.

  • 1031 Exchange: Eliminate commodity program payments for all newly purchased land benefiting from a 1031 tax exchange.

  • Eliminate three-entity rule.

  • Counter-cyclical program will be based on revenue trigger — not price trigger.

  • Base loan rates on the last five years, removing high and low years, capped at 2002 House of Representatives-passed farm bill levels if necessary (wheat — $2.58/bu.; corn — $1.89/bu.; soybeans — $4.92/bu.; upland cotton — $0.5192/lb.; and rice — $6.50/cwt.

  • Posted county price (PCP): Replace the current daily PCP with a monthly PCP.

  • Increase direct payments.

  • Planting flexibility: Allow planting of fruits and vegetables on program crop acres.

  • Crop Insurance: Establish a revenue-based, counter-cyclical program providing gap coverage in crop insurance, link crop insurance participation to farm program participation.

Conservation:

  • Wetlands Reserve Program: Increase from 2.3 million to 3.5 million acres.

  • Consolidate cost-share programs into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and create a Regional Water Enhancement Program with an additional $4.2 billion.

  • Continue Conservation Reserve Program at the current acreage limit and focus on lands with the greatest environmental benefits. Give priority to whole-field enrollment for lands utilized for biomass production of energy.

Renewable Energy:

  • Bioenergy and Biobased Product Research Initiative ($500 million) to foster coordination of research efforts to continue improvements in crop yields and reduce the cost of producing alternative fuels.

  • $500 million for renewable energy systems and efficiency improvements grants. This program would support small alternative energy and energy efficiency projects that directly help farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses.

  • Provide $210 million to support an estimated $2.1 billion in loan guarantees for cellulosic ethanol projects in rural areas.

Trade:

  • Increase funding for Market Access Program by $250 million. The increase is only for specialty crops.