It seems like we just finished working on a Farm Bill, and here we are talking about starting work on the next Farm Bill. According to Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron, the tough economic times in agriculture mandate we start talking about it now, “In these times, we need to craft the best safety net possible.” Indiana has been working on getting farmer input which will then need to be combined with that from other states and other agricultural organizations.
“Indiana Farm Bureau wants to take a proactive role in helping shape the next Farm Bill,” said INFB Public Policy Director Katrina Hall. “Agriculture is made up of so many diverse interests, and it is important that Hoosier farmers and Midwestern commodities find their voice in federal policy discussions.” During the Farm Bureau State Convention, delegates discussed 11 Farm Bill titles. Among those, priority focus was placed on the crop insurance, commodity, conservation, and nutrition titles.
Regarding the crop insurance title, delegates voted to recommend supporting the continued availability of whole farm revenue protection insurance and of ways to encourage the USDA and producers to both utilize the product. Delegates also voted to recommend opposing caps or limits being applied to crop insurance premium assistance to producers. “The solvency and availability of the crop insurance program is extremely important to our members,” said Hall. “The program allows farmers to purchase policies specifically tailored to their operation at a much lower cost for coverage than fully private insurers can provide.”
In the next Farm Bill’s conservation title, delegates would like to see greater flexibility for farmers in receiving technical assistance from government agencies for conservation practices, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in a federal conservation program.
Indiana Farm Bureau delegates agreed to recommend that the next Farm Bill’s commodity title should be based on:
Providing timely payments.
Using state price and county yield data when determining revenue benchmarks and loss triggers.
Protecting producers from multi-year price volatility.
AFBF official Mary Kay Thatcher said Congress will start holding Farm Bill hearings in 2017, “House and Senate Ag committee leadership have already said they will start holding hearings next spring, along with listening sessions.” Thatcher says farmer input is vital when it comes to crafting and passing a new Farm Bill, “In 2014 there was not a lot of farmer input. I think times were good and folks had other things to do than give input on a Farm Bill. This time it has to be different.” Immigration reform and tax reform are other top national farm issues on which Farm Bureau will be working. Thatcher says trade will not be an issue in 2017, “I think it will be several years before we can begin to address the trade issue.” She indicated, in the meantime, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that can be done on trade.
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