Farmers Need A Farm Bill

Farmers Need A Farm Bill

Farmers Need A Farm Bill. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

Many in the agriculture industry - including American Farmland Trust - are urging that Congress pass a farm bill this year. AFT President Jon Scholl explains why his organization believes passing a farm bill in 2012 is so important.

SCHOLL: First of all it’s important that farmers have certainty. Farm Bill programs play such an important part of the economics of a farm operation and when you don’t know exactly what the policy is going to be in the coming year, it’s very difficult to plan. I think the other reason I would point to is the fact that everybody understands the budgets a mess at the federal level. There’s going to be a lot of cutting taking place and we believe that if the farm bill is delayed then the prospects for those cuts are only going to get deeper and worse.

Scholl says there are some big obstacles in getting a new farm bill passed this year. One is time - which he says is an issue because it’s an election year and legislators are devoting much of their attention to their campaigns. He says the calendar gets very crowded.

SCHOLL: Just having the time to go through the hearing process and get a floor vote can be very, very challenging when dealing with an issue as important as the farm bill. The second thing I would point to is the fact that there really are still some fairly significant disagreements in the whole safety net area of the farm bill. A lot of people having different ideas and thoughts in terms of what that should look like.

Without the legislation’s passage  - Scholl says uncertainty will have a major impact on farmers’ lives because it’s more difficult for them to plan what they will do without knowing what support they will have through the farm bill.

SCHOLL: And those programs being left up in the air, not knowing what kind of funding they’re going to have, what kind of support they’re going to have - clearly is a real challenge for farmers as they look ahead and try to be good stewards as well as responsible fiscal managers of their farms and ranches.

Scholl says the Conservation Title is one of the most important parts of that debate.

SCHOLL: What kind of assistance is going to be there to help farmers be the kind of stewards they want to be, assistance that’s very badly needed when you look a the challenge the industry is facing. The second issue that we’re focused on is that of preserving farmland, keeping our best land in agricultural production. We’re going to need that land if we’re going to be able to meet the demands that we face in the future. he third is to keep farmers on the land. It’s not farmland without farmers. Clearly if you protect land and treat it well, if you can;t have a farm that can remain economically viable on that land then you really haven;t accomplished what we need to as an industry.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network. 

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