My message this month is a call to action. The process of getting a farm bill passed is complex and takes some urgency to get completed. We knew it wouldn’t be completed in 2017. But now that we are in 2018, we need to step up the pressure and call our congressional delegation to tell them and their counterparts to get to work.
The administration has indicated a desire to give us a good farm bill and a strong crop insurance program. We should not let them back away from that commitment. The House Agriculture Committee has indicated they have a farm bill ready to roll but have not released any details yet. The House Ag Committee has also been messaging by video the importance of a strong farm program, reiterating what we at Farmers Union have been saying for years. The Senate has said we should be able to pass a bill in the near term. Again, we should not let them back away from their promise.
Time is of the essence as the PAYGO (Pay As You GO) concept may play an important role in determining our capacity to write strong farm programs and establish food security for our nation. PAYGO is the practice in the U.S. of financing expenditures with funds that are currently available rather than borrowed. Farm programs have already taken $100 billion in cuts in the last 10 years. The overall funding needs to be higher not restricted by available dollars.
We should also be given time for input to improve the farm program. It cannot be done behind the scenes without input from family farmers, who are impacted.
The call to action is for you to contact Congressman Kevin Cramer (202-225-2611), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (202-224-2043) and Sen. John Hoeven (202-224-2551).
Tell them the time is now for a strong farm bill with more funding, more protection and higher support levels. Current commodity prices are limiting the ability of farmers to be profitable and to deliver a sustainable, inexpensive food security system for our nation.
If asked, specific requests are: increased and robust reference prices under the Price Loss Coverage program that account for cost of production; technical corrections to the Agricultural Risk Coverage program for improved performance; continued subsidies for crop insurance; and expansion of insurance options for livestock.
– NDFU President Mark Watne