Farm Bill

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COLUMBIA - The farm bill budget discussion has reached Columbia, Missouri. For the first time in five years, Columbia hosted a public forum and panel discussion of the national farm bill.

About 100 people came to the Columbia College auditorium Tuesday night. Students, professors and farmers wanted to learn more about the farm bill, which is re-written every five years. A new farm bill will go before Congress next year, and one panelist said the 2012 bill could likely see cuts.

Panelist of the forum Brad Redlin said there could be as much as a 25% cut from the previous farm bill budget.

According to Redlin, the last farm bill included 285 dollars in credits, subsidies and payouts. The farm bill touches food stamps, farm production, food processing, distribution and marketing of much of what Americans eat.

Redlin hopes local production can better be addressed by the bill, and he said it's a booming market.

"Local food, which is a greatly expanding market right now, four billion dollars last year, expected to be seven billion dollars in 2012. That's a market that is not based on corn, soy beans or wheat, rice, or cotton. It's based on growing local foods that people eat locally," Redlin said.

Redlin said the group also wants to get input on what programs Congress might want to trim.

This is the next to last stop for the farm bill panelists in Missouri. The trip will conclude in St. Louis tomorrow evening.