By Kitty Holtz
Delaware Farm Bureau
It is unfortunate that the passage of the 2018 farm bill has been delayed. As farmers and ranchers, we know how important these programs are to our livelihood and our ability to grow the food, fuel and fiber we all enjoy. Our legislators should understand how important the farm bill is to agriculture and our rural economy. As a nation, we have the chance to support good nutrition for all and work together to protect the safe, affordable food supply we all depend on.
A core purpose of a farm bill is to help farmers and ranchers weather factors beyond our control, including weather, natural disasters, disease, and high and rising foreign subsidies, tariffs, and non-tariff trade barriers. This is especially true during hard economic times such as we are experiencing now.
American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said, “H.R. 2—the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018—takes us one step closer to bringing certainty to families who face the toughest farm economy in more than a decade.”
Farmers are resilient, but we have lost nearly half our net farm income in the last five years, the steepest decline since the Great Depression. Farmers want to keep agriculture progressing and sustainable for current and future generations, but we must be able to hold on through the tough times to do that.
The farm bill helps provide an effective risk management plan in the form of federal crop insurance. It continues the work of streamlining and improving programs that encourage our conservation work and promote critical research and development for farming practices.
The 2018 farm bill is good for farmers and good for our country, for our local economy as well as our national economy.
Even amid great financial hardship for agriculture, farmers and ranchers are doing their part to help restrain federal spending. The farm bill reported by the House Agriculture Committee abides by the Committee’s commitments under the FY 2018 budget resolution and is on target to contribute more than $112 billion to deficit reduction over the next 10 years. These savings are roughly five times greater than initially pledged.
The new working standards and guidelines for education programs proposed in the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 would give Americans struggling with poverty not only access to the nutrition they need, but also a pathway to learn and enter a new career and get back on their feet. As farmers, we want to see the food we grow get to all Americans’ plates. Our nation’s ability to raise the next generation of citizens, soldiers and leaders depends on it.
We urge you to ask Congress to complete a new farm bill that promotes food security and a strong farm economy and that protects the thousands of jobs supported by America’s agricultural productivity.