Putting politics aside to focus on the Farm Bill

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The current Farm Bill expires in a little over five months and it is full speed ahead for everyone in the gg industry. The President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Chuck Conner, acknowledges these are trying times in American politics.

“We just need a good farm bill to carry us through these volatile times acknowledging that that may not be today, but it could well be tomorrow,” Conner said.

Conner was acting Secretary and Deputy Secretary of USDA during the George W. Bush years. He says one challenge facing this year’s Farm Bill legislation is the partisan atmosphere, especially since debt ceiling talks are set to begin any day now.

“You know, these are challenging times in American politics. We have a Congress that is divided in a partisan way like I have never seen in my long career. They have a very difficult time doing the normal business that Congress should be doing on behalf of the people because of the controversy that is out there. But having said that, I do think we’re going to get the Farm Bill done—maybe not exactly on time, but certainly, in what I would consider to be a relatively timely way,” Conner said.

One of the biggest points of contention is funding for SNAP, but Conner says congress needs to be focused on building stronger safety nets for farmers.

“Crop insurance is the number one risk management tool that we make available to farmers in the farm bill, so it’s just fundamental to the business structure out there. We believe that we have support out there to maintain a strong crop insurance program—perhaps, even make it better than the current one.”

That is why he and his organization are pushing for more crop commodity programs.

“One of our priorities is to make sure that Title One of that bill, which is really the assistance for farmers, needs to be as strong a title as we possibly can. We know that we’re in a cyclical business. Great times today probably ensure leaner times tomorrow. We just need a good farm bill and need a good Title One that can sustain farmers through those tougher times—whether that’s through farm commodity programs, conservation programs, and crop insurance,” Conner said.

The 2018 Farm Bill was budgeted at $867 billion. Current estimates have this year’s Farm Bill at $1.5 trillion.

Story via NAFB

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