WASHINGTON -- Roger Winter lost $28,000 on his wheat and dairy farm in Callaway, Minn., last year, and is in Washington this week trying to make sure that doesn't happen again.
''I'm here to be a voice for the rest of the United States,'' he said.
Winter is one of more than 1,000 farmers participating in the Rally for Rural America this week, aimed at increasing crop supports for struggling family farmers.
The main villain for the mostly Democratic gathering, dubbed ''Rally for Rural America,'' was the 1996 Freedom to Farm law, which reduced crop subsidies.
''Family farmers have been the victim of bad public policy in this country, and it's time to straighten it out,'' said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman agreed. ''It is time to rewrite that 1996 Freedom to Farm bill,'' he said.
The legislation called for price supports to be gradually scaled back over seven years. The law, pushed by Republicans, was intended to wean farmers from federal support, but since its passage Congress has passed several multibillion-dollar bailouts. Last year, the package totaled $8.7 billion, with the bulk going to Midwestern Corn Belt farmers.
''It's made farmers more dependent on Congress,'' said Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D. ''It's wrong -- it's just dead wrong!''
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