In July, we had the pleasure of hosting the NFU Board of Directors meeting at our office in Jamestown. During that meeting, we took an aggressive stand on the inequities in current farm programs from dairy to grains to cattle. We believe the value of U.S. family farm food production in this nation is undervalued and should be recognized as a great success, great consumer value and vital to national security.
With years of budget cuts, farm programs are currently underfunded. Only .28 percent of the entire federal budget is spent on commodity programs, conservation and crop insurance that secures an abundant food supply.
Unfortunately, American family farmers and ranchers are in the midst of a farm crisis with no end in sight. This is the very circumstance for which farm programs were created. But the farm safety net fails to address dire farm economics.
Several indicators of rural economic health demonstrate the need for urgent action. USDA projects median net farm income to decline for the fourth consecutive year with negative income expected, representing a 50 percent decline in four years. Grain commodity prices have dropped by half and are below the cost of production. The 2017 debt-to-asset ratio is the worst the agriculture industry has seen in three decades. Farm lending has dropped by 40 percent from a year ago.
North Dakota Farmers Union is not accepting the mantra that there isn’t money available or less money exists to support our successful food production system. We intend to keep challenging Congress and the administration to do their work to ensure an abundant food supply for our country, which starts with family farm agriculture.
— NDFU President Mark Watne