NDFU’s Farm Bill Working Group met March 14-15 at the state office in Jamestown. The working group, from left to right, is Mike Schlosser of Edgeley, David Lundeby of Osnabrock, Wyatt Sundquist of Forman, David Teigen of Rugby, Kevin Johnson of Plaza, Emily Zarak of South Heart and Ryan Petrick of Elgin.

David Teigen hopes the 2023 Farm Bill addresses his biggest concerns.

Teigen, who farms with his wife Jennifer and four boys near Rugby, knows that prices are good right now but wants to make sure the farm bill is built to handle a downturn for producers.

“The first thing that comes to mind is higher reference prices for (Price Loss Coverage),” he said. “That’s a baseline safety net that provides a little bit of certainty.”

Teigen chairs North Dakota Farmers Union’s Farm Bill Working Group, which is made up of one producer from each of NDFU’s seven districts. The group had its second meeting March 14-15 at the state office in Jamestown.

“This is a chance for our members to have input on what goes into the next farm bill,” NDFU President Mark Watne said. “Farm bills are only once every five years, so these decisions make a big impact on producers.”

Teigen, from District 2, said he wants the group to address what’s missing from the current farm bill, which Congress passed four years ago as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

“What’s missing from this farm bill is support for a long-term price decline,” believes Teigen, who raises spring wheat, malt barley, yellow peas and soybeans. “If we have low prices for five years or more at a time, our averages go down and so does the level of support.”

Teigen said the group spends most of the time analyzing the current farm bill in a way that considers the needs of all the state’s producers.

“It’s a lot of high-level discussion about what’s working and what are some problems that we’ve seen arise that need to be addressed,” he said. “Farmers from across the state all have very different experiences. There are a lot of good points of view. That makes for good conversation in a setting like this.”

Ryan Petrick farms and ranches with his wife Amanda and four kids north of Elgin, and he’s the group’s representative from District 5. With the drought hitting the western half of the state particularly hard, he’d like the farm bill to better address hay shortages: “Whether it’s to open up haying earlier for CRP or better address (Livestock Forage Payments), we need more assistance for livestock producers.”

The other five members of the working group are Dave Lundeby of Osnabrock (District 1), Kevin Johnson of Plaza (D3), Emily Zarak of South Heart (D4), Mike Schlosser of Edgeley (D6) and Wyatt Sundquist of Forman (D7).

The group meets again in June and November before attending a mini fly-in to Washington, D.C., in February 2023.

— Chris Aarhus, NDFU