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April 8, 2013

AFBF Sends Farm Bill Proposal to Capitol Hill

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

Congress has to start all over again on writing a new farm bill. With a tighter budget it’s that much harder. American Farm Bureau farm policy specialist Mary Kay Thatcher says the AFBF board of directors has sent a proposal up to Capitol Hill that might help the House and Senate agriculture committees come up with a new plan. AFBF’s Johnna Miller has that story.
Miller:The board of the nation’s largest general farm organization has sent a farm bill proposal up to Capitol Hill.
Thatcher:We have the ability to put forward a proposal that has to take into account every commodity just as the members of the Senate and House ag committees. We think it’s important to come up with something that will put some money towards deficit reduction, just like we did last year, and yet to provide a safety net over the next five years. So if we have another drought or a flood or a hurricane, there would be programs in place to provide a safety net, where farmers would not be forced to go out of business because of a weather disaster that they had no control over.
Miller:American Farm Bureau farm policy specialist Mary Kay Thatcher says the Farm Bureau plan costs $23 billion less than the current farm bill and could be a big help to House and Senate agriculture committees that are starting over writing a farm bill from scratch, since they weren’t able to get one passed last year.
Thatcher:I think it’s incredibly important that we get it done this year. We talked last year about the fact that it was going to be a whole lot more difficult and indeed it is. We just have less money to be able to spend.
Miller:Thatcher says getting the farm bill done with an adequate safety net for the nation’s farmers is good for the nation’s consumers and taxpayers, too.
Thatcher:Farmers and ranchers are putting in hundreds of dollars of inputs into every acre of land and they don’t know what the weather is going to be. So they have to have a good insurance program to make sure that they’re not putting in hundreds of dollars per acre investment and potentially getting nothing out of it like we had the drought that came through last year. Most people in the country will also tell you that they care where their food comes from. They’re worried is the food that they’re eating from foreign countries as safe as it is here. And unfortunately we’re only able to inspect about 1 percent of the products that come in from overseas and so we really don’t know that indeed we are ensuring that. Most consumers would like to buy local, would like to have family-sized farmers viable and in this country.
Miller:And the nation needs a farm bill to guarantee that. Johnna Miller, Washington.
Miller:Newsline is updated Mondays and Thursdays by 5pm Eastern. Thank you for listening.

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