Ag Policy Blog

National Farmers Union Details Farm Bill Priorities

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent

The National Farmers Union board of directors has laid out 14 recommendations for writing the farm bill, beginning with the need for more money.

“American farmers are not only suffering from price pressure that has reduced net farm income by half over the last four years, but devastating wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters continue to punish agricultural communities,” said the NFU board.

“Trade policies continue to promote the sale of farm products at prices below the cost of production. Farm bill legislation in 2018 must strengthen the safety net so that farmers and ranchers can manage risk, stay in business and continue to feed our country.”

The recommendations say that Congress should “provide a sufficient farm safety net, support rural communities, protect natural resources, improve beginning farmers’ and ranchers’ opportunities for success, and ensure the nation’s most vulnerable people have enough to eat.”

“The farm bill, rightly so, touches all aspects of our food system,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “As such, Congress must write and pass a farm bill this year that adequately supports each part of the food system — from the family farmers who grow our food, to the land they do it on, to the rural communities they support, and all the way to the consumers who rely on safe, affordable food.”

“Providing adequate support begins with a recognition of the dire economic conditions of the farm economy, the impacts of food production on the land, and the moral imperative of our country to ensure its most vulnerable citizens have access to food.”

The recommendations include:

- Changes to the Title I commodity programs, including “increased and robust reference prices under the Price Loss Coverage program,” technical corrections to the Agricultural Risk Coverage program, and an “incentives-based inventory management program to manage milk supplies based on market demand” and making cotton a covered commodity.

- A conservation title that provides “additional acreage under the Conservation Reserve Program,” maintains “funding for working lands conservation programs that promote active stewardship and locally led conservation activities,” and funds “climate mitigation research and technical assistance at national and local levels.”

- “Robust funding for programs that promote economic, infrastructure and clean energy development in rural communities,” and prioritizing development of local cooperatives.

- Beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers’ and ranchers’ programs to improve access to land, capital, efficiency and markets.

- Strong nutrition programs in order to provide a safety net against hunger.

“The family farm is the keystone of a free, progressive, and democratic national society as well as a strong America, and is the basis of a safe, secure, and stable food system,” wrote the NFU board. “It provides opportunities for individual enterprise to all families in our society to achieve economic and social stability, as well as soil, water, and environmental stewardship of our natural resources and unparalleled production efficiency.”

Perdue to roll out Trump administration principles

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will roll out the Trump administration’s farm bill principles on Wednesday in Pennsylvania.

In a media advisory, USDA said, "The secretary will start the day by touring facilities and meeting with faculty and students at the state’s land-grant university, Pennsylvania State University in University Park. He will tour Reinford Farms in Mifflintown and take part in a luncheon and town hall meeting. The secretary will then tour the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg and AgCom, Inc. in Gettysburg, holding roundtable discussions at each. He will conclude his day at the Adams County Farm Service Agency Service Center in Gettysburg.”

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