On Monday, May 23, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns will travel to Arkansas to meet with farmers regarding President Bush’s proposed budget, and to tour an Arkansas farm operation.

In early April, after expressing continued reservations about the effect of Bush administration’s policies on farmers in the South, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Ark.-D, secured a commitment from the White House that Johanns would travel to her home state. Lincoln wanted to bring the nation’s top agriculture official to Arkansas to see firsthand the impacts of the president’s proposed farm cuts on farmers.

Lincoln has said President Bush’s budget would impose unreasonable payment limitations and drastically reduce the level of support promised to Southern farmers in the 2002 farm bill. She pointed out that crops grown in the South require a more costly capitol investment than those produced in other regions.

On Johanns’ itinerary are:

Lonoke County farm tour

Early Monday afternoon, Lincoln and Johanns will travel to an England, Ark.-area cotton and rice farm and tour the operation. Lincoln said this would give Johanns an opportunity to talk with local farmers and gain a firsthand look at some of the capital-intensive crops grown in Arkansas.

Little Rock public meeting with farmers

Beginning at 4 p.m. in Little Rock’s Alltel Arena, Lincoln and Johanns will host a large meeting with farmers from around the state. Lincoln said this will give farmers the opportunity to discuss with Johanns farming issues such as Asian soybean rust, the farm bill, trade and conservation.