I tend to look at things optimistically. It is the best mindset for achieving goals, especially those that are difficult. As we approached the expiration of the 2018 Farm Bill and opportunity to write a new bill, I was optimistic it could happen in a timely manner. Now, it appears an extension is the only viable option.

My optimism early on was based on communications with leaders in the U.S. House and Senate and their willingness to enhance the Farm Bill in a few areas, which would have made it stronger. That included maintaining and enhancing crop insurance and livestock programs, enhancing ARC and PLC support levels, creating a dual sign-up option for ARC and PLC, funding conservation programs that help farmers fund adoption of climate enhancing practices, and further enforcement of market concentration in supply and marketing channels. There was even consideration of new money to make these changes possible.

An extension in my mind is less favorable than working to get a new Farm Bill passed with some of the above changes. One can only hope with optimism that the delay will allow us to make a greater case for changes and hopefully give us more opportunity for input.  

So, why are we not seeing a new Farm Bill or the Farm Bill being worked on? It is a lack of willingness by politicians to govern as they should. We appear to be in a constant state of elections and campaign mode. There is a constant battle to define each other as out of touch with reality. Our political environment is not always the fault of politicians. It is often we, as voters, who don’t take the time to ensure the people we elect will work hard to represent the needs of agriculture. We should not elect people whose only purpose is to disrupt the system.

I find it interesting when people blame the government, not realizing that we are the government. We are responsible for the people we elect to represent us. If we elect individuals who won’t fight for ideas, find areas of agreement, realize compromise is necessary, and pass thoughtful legislation, our government becomes stymied.

At this moment, the House of Representatives is barely functioning. They have forgotten what it takes to proceed, not only with the farm program, but with funding in general. For the House to function, it will be necessary to compromise. To believe you will get everything you want is not real and will not happen. Representatives should start to do the hard work of governing and move forward. That would allow debate on a Farm Bill, which is a high priority for our country as it impacts both farmers and consumers. We cannot deny the success and value of farm programs in providing a high-quality food system for our nation.

NDFU promises to continue to monitor the process and work to influence the development of the next Farm Bill. We will get there, and it may have some enhancements. You can encourage our elected officials to work to get this on the table sooner than later. It is important. It is a bipartisan issue and should be something we can accomplish together for the good of all.

— NDFU President Mark Watne