Safety Net Programs

Safety Net Programs

Maura Bennett
Maura Bennett

How do weather and economic conditions impact US farmers and how well do safety net programs function to help them through tough times?

A House Ag Subcommittee has heard from farmers to get those questions answered.

3rd generation Georgia peanut and cotton farmer Wes Shannon spoke about decades of floods and drought that forced him to refinance his family farms in Tifton.

Shannon: “I'm now in my early 60’s and despite the assistance, we received from safety net programs I’ve had to refinance out family farms 3 times. Our stress and anxiety levels remain high. I wish I could tell you that our experience is an isolated case but it is not. Many farmers across the south can share similar stories.

This is why he believes a strong agriculture safety net is so important. Shannon says there is room to improve on safety net programs.

Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois chairs the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. She and ranking member Georgia Representative Austin Scott, said the concerns are being heard as they begin the work on the next federal Farm Bill.

Bustos: “With the weather and the market conditions in recent years that our witnesses have described, and the worsening drought conditions affecting much of the country, we will together be actively working together to address the challenges that our family farmers are facing.”

Scott: “One of the things that I want to mention as we write the next Farm Bill is that it is important to me that any additional things are done with regard to the environment that is currently being discussed, not come out of the current safety net for our ag producers. And that it be done in the form of additional funds, not in lieu of what we are currently providing in crop insurance and other things for our producers.”

Farmers also told subcommittee members about frustrations due to short-staffed FSA offices and high turnover rates of workers. They also want to see better communication between the FSA and RCA to implement existing programs more efficiently.

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