U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar visits Craig today


If you go

What: U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar "Putting the Farm Bill to work tour"

When: 2 to 3 p.m. today

Where: Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion

Cost: Event is free and open to the public

— U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar wants to talk with rural Coloradans. He'll get to do that during a visit to Craig today.

Salazar, D-Colo., will be at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion from 2 to 3 p.m. today to first speak about the 2008 Farm Bill - legislation he led in the Senate - and other issues concerning residents.

"The primary focus of his tour is the Farm Bill, but it is a community meeting," Salazar press secretary Stephanie Valencia said. "He'll take questions about anything residents want to ask him about."

The 2008 Farm Bill, passed May 15, has several provisions that address farmers, subsidy loopholes, renewable energy programs and school lunches.

Valencia said the most common misconception is the bill does nothing but subsidize farms, which is one reason Salazar is touring the state's large cities and small communities.

"This Farm Bill goes beyond farmers - it affects everybody," she said. "There are a lot of pieces that work to invest in responsible renewable energy, a program to ensure Colorado's kids have fresh fruits and vegetables for lunch and programs for conservation of water and land."

In addition to providing $5 million for a biodiesel education program, $120 million for biomass research and development, and $320 million in loan guarantees for biorefineries, the bill authorizes a $1.01 per gallon tax credit for producers of cellulosic biofuels through 2012.

Cellulosic biofuels are created by fermenting sugar in plants - such as wood, grass, agricultural waste and yard clippings - and turning the end product into fuel, which can be used for gasoline or to produce electricity.

Cellulosic biofuels have the potential to displace 3 billion barrels of oil a year, or about 60 percent of the country's oil needs, according to a Salazar news release.

The program also would not affect food, feed or fiber prices, the release states.

The Farm Bill closes a few subsidy loopholes as well, Valencia said, such as no longer allowing farmland that has been subdivided into other residential or commercial lots to be eligible for commodity payments.

In addition, the bill eliminates all farm program payments to farmers who have more than $500,000 in non-farm adjusted gross income, and eliminates direct payments to farmers who have more than $750,000 in adjusted gross income.

"I think the senator would say this Farm Bill and the senator himself work really hard to close the loopholes where people get more money than they should," Valencia said.


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