DTN Political Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom and the Food & Environment Reporting Network's Chuck Abbott both highlighted an issue I have wondering about over the past week: Are farmers thinking about the farm bill?
Hagstrom wrote in his newsletter that Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., have both said in the past week that farmers are not pushing them to write a new farm bill because they have so many other concerns.
At a Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing last week, Blunt said that when he met recently with farmers for 45 minutes, the farm bill never came up. The reasons behind Blunt’s statements were covered in a report Monday in the Food & Environment Reporting Network’s Ag Insider. https://goo.gl/…
FERN added Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue pointed to low commodity prices, the slump in farm income, attacks on corn ethanol and, most of all, anxiety about a possible trade war are the top concerns in farm country.
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“These things have overshadowed, in a farm bill year, discussion of the farm bill,” said Perdue during a dialogue with Blunt last week at a Senate hearing.
Last week Peterson told the North American Agricultural Journalists he would describe the farm bill as the fifth item that farmers bring up, “but some groups never bring up the farm bill.”
Peterson said farmers are more likely to talk about the Waters of the United States and overregulation in general, or trade, maintaining crop insurance and the Renewable Fuel Standard before they bring up the farm bill.
He noted that crop insurance is authorized separately from the farm bill and said it does not need to be in it. Peterson said neither he nor the farmers find the House bill exciting because it does not provide additional money to farmers in a period of low commodity prices.
Peterson said he has directed his staff to work with the Congressional Budget Office on a proposal to raise target prices on crops by 10%.
After President Donald Trump brought in GOP senators and governors last week to talk about agriculture and trade, I asked Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts how much discussion was on the farm bill. He said it was barely mentioned in passing as lawmakers and the president were focused more on trade topics and biofuels.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, who will hold a markup on his farm bill proposal on Wednesday, and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., have both said that farmers need a new farm bill before the current one expires on September 30 to provide them certainty.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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