Keith Bolin, president of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) and a corn and hog farmer from Manlius, Ill., urged quick action from the new Congress, and inclusiveness of the priorities of rural America in its agenda. ACGA called on Congress for expeditious completion of last year's energy bill, to rethink U.S. agriculture policy, postponement of reopening the U.S. border to Canadian beef imports and urged caution on Social Security reform.

ACGA, the nation's leading farm and rural voice for renewable energy such as ethanol and wind power, is urging Congress to move forward with the energy bill which failed to pass the last Congress. "Not only does this legislation increase the demand for renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, it also increases the incentives to produce and use renewable power sources such as wind," said Bolin.

"The energy bill contains many provisions that are important to the economic and environmental well being of our rural citizens and these initiatives should be a part of the early agenda for Congress this year," stated Larry Mitchell, chief executive of the organization. "ACGA strongly supports the passage and enactment of a Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which will more than double the demand for ethanol, thus creating more than a billion bushels of new corn demand. Additionally, ACGA supports a further extension of the wind power Production Tax Credit (PTC), which will assist in encouraging new farmer-owned wind power development projects."

"We must rethink U.S. agriculture policy and change course to secure farmers' livelihoods world wide," added Bolin. "It is time we move toward a U.S. agriculture policy that relies more on improving prices paid to farmers for the fruits of their labor and less on direct subsidies from taxpayers. But until we treat and eliminate the disease of low prices, we are dependent on the current subsidy structure. Simply eliminating subsides, without first enacting mechanisms to improve prices, will devastate U.S. farmers and will not help farmers in developing nations. We must have fair and decent prices in order to help all farmers."

"ACGA also urges the new Congress to quickly review and act on the issue of reopening U.S. borders to imports of Canadian beef," declared Bolin. "We have asked for a postponement of reopening the border and have concerns that to do so at this time will damage the viability and credibility of our great cattle industry. We also support Congressman Earl Pomeroy's newly introduced bill requiring certification that the U.S. had its export markets back before allowing Canadian live cattle imports across the border."

"We also urge caution as Congress takes up the president's proposal to reform Social Security," added Mitchell. "There is no question that the program should be improved, but the president's plan will reduce benefits to many retired Americans, many living in our rural communities. His current plan to privatize a portion of the system will also create a huge hole in the Social Security Trust Fund which could well exceed a trillion dollars. The loss in the trust fund would have to be replaced by higher public debt to be paid by our children and grandchildren, even lower Social Security benefits, reductions or elimination of other critical federal programs or all of the above. The decisions made on these issues will impact every American, including rural Americans as well as every American family, including America's farm families. We again urge caution on this serious endeavor."

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