In another blow to support for the House version of the farm bill, the National Farmers Union's board of directors early Wednesday passed a unanimous resolution to oppose the bill as it cleared the House Agriculture Committee last week.
NFU leans more to the left than some other farm organizations, but the group's rejection and criticisms of the farm programs in the new farm bill comes as House Republicans seek to get the farm bill onto the House floor for a vote in early May.
In a statement, NFU's board noted the new farm bill, HR 2, "lacks the improvements needed to help farmers cope with continued low prices." NFU stated “The bill fails to provide farmers with the tools they need to be the best possible stewards of our natural resources, and it reverses progress toward expanding access to local, regional, and specialty markets."
Along with that, NFU criticized the bill for making "unnecessary cuts to programs that feed hungry Americans."
National Farmers Union pointed to "weak commodity prices, large surpluses, and an increasingly consolidated marketplace" that is making it harder for farmers to receive fair value for their production. The board noted that net farm income in 2018 is projected to be less than half of what it was in 2013.
“As a result, family farmers are forced to rely on price supports to sustain their operations,” the Board said. “Unfortunately, the farm safety net does not reflect the current state of the farm economy.”
NFU’s Board added that disputes with international trading partners are creating additional challenges for farm profitability that require a long-term solution. “The Farm Bill should include additional funding to offset the potential damages to American family farmers and ranchers,” it said.
The NFU resolution called on House members to make the following improvements to the Farm Bill:
- Increase PLC reference prices to improve the farm safety net and offset potential trade retaliation;
- Strengthen payment limitations and actively engaged requirements for Title I programs;
- Provide dairy farmers with enhanced price supports and a mechanism that manages our nation’s milk inventories to meet market demand;
- Ensure credit availability by increasing the Farm Service Agency's overall loan portfolio;
- Maintain funding levels for consumer benefits under nutrition programs;
- Provide an incentive-based working lands conservation program that promotes improved stewardship;
- Restore mandatory funding for energy programs that promote development of the bioeconomy in rural areas; and
- Reinstate mandatory funding for programs that improve access to local, regional, and specialty markets.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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