The Record’s Ag Report
I had the pleasure last week of meeting with several individuals working in the agricultural industry for the purpose of gathering information on the status of the Farm Bill and other programs which I will include in our weekly ag column for January and February.
One of my visits was with North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. Commissioner Goehring expressed how he felt about the proposed 2012 Farm Bill not being passed in a timely manner.
“What was so disappointing to the agricultural community throughout the nation was that they worked very diligently with the Senate and the House Committees to develop a farm bill that was going to address their needs,” Goehring said.
That proposed 2012 Farm Bill went a bit further from what was in the 2008 Farm Bill by adding some dairy reform, beefing up risk management tools and removing direct payments.
People wanted to see the proposed 2012 Farm Bill move forward, though, as there was so much work put into writing it, and they did not want to start over.
Goehring said there were some provisions in the new farm bill which would have addressed some very crucial items.
Specialty crop research initiatives were to be funded at approximately $100 million, which was doubtful that the funding would go through, but it was felt it was needed. There was also $664 million as a provision for the livestock industry and fruit and vegetable industry that were not covered under insurance, and that was stripped out. Those provisions were proposed to address the drought problem in the United States.
Agriculture will be subject to more cuts, but those cuts are somewhat disproportionate, as agriculture has already taken some pretty deep cuts over the past few years.
For the past eight decades, the federal farm policy has been designed to ensure we keep people working because agriculture indirectly employs 9 to 19 percent of the workforce indirectly. In North Dakota, we employ 25 percent of the workforce indirectly.
Through our farm policies, our nation is ensured we have abundant, affordable, safe and nutritious food. The federal government established federal farm policies for food security issues, to make sure we would never go hungry again.
“We subsidize food production, not the farmer. That is why in the United States, consumers only spend 6 to 8 percent of their income on food,” Goehring said.
In preparing for the writing of the 2012 Farm Bill, North Dakota farm groups gathered to list what was most important for farmers and ranchers to be included in the next farm bill. At the top of the list was risk management tools—crop insurance and next generation crop insurance products.
Some of the other priorities included a safety net program, counter cyclical payments, ACRE program, disaster program, livestock indemnity program, emergency livestock assistance, trade programs and research.
While much of the general public believes that agricultural producers receive big dollars through the farm bill, the food and nutrition programs encompass over 81 percent of the funds allocated.
That has been an issue with many farmers and ranchers; however, without the food and nutrition requirements being a part of the farm bill, we would not gain the support of the urban communities.
“The Farm Bill has an impact on everyone’s lives. It is purely and simply food security, economic security and energy security,” Goehring said.
For now, the 2008 Farm Bill has been extended through September 30, 2013, and Ag Commissioner Goehring realizes that there will be some heavy debates, and the agricultural industry may see further cuts.
“We will continue to monitor and address our concerns and work with the ag community and my counterparts in other states to make sure the next farm bill is being structured and formatted in a way that is useful and applicable to our agricultural industry,” Goehring said.