Clements: Farm groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation are seeking funding increases in the upcoming farm bill. AFBF senior director of congressional relations Mary Kay Thatcher says the current farm economy is leaving farmers and ranchers needing additional support from farm bill programs.
Thatcher: You’ve got virtually every commodity that is in financial trouble. Cotton and dairy just have a miserable safety net, so those have to be fixed. So we sent a letter along with everybody else in the ag community just saying we need additional funding because we’re just not going to be able to write a farm bill with a robust safety net to help these farmers unless we get additional funding.
Clements: Thatcher says there are many programs that need attention in the farm bill debate.
Thatcher: We even have 37 programs that are in this farm bill but will run out of funding before we write the next one. There are things that are like the beginning farmer and rancher program, the value added development grant program, organics, so we’ve got almost $3 billion just to get back to where we were.
Clements: She says proposed cuts to USDA by President Trump do not impact the farm bill.
Thatcher: Most of the farm bill is mandatory funding, so it’s a whole different ballgame. But the fact is it’s the House and the Senate that write the budget, it’s the House and the Senate that write the farm bill. I think it’s really important that farmers talk to their members of Congress and help their members of Congress understand what’s happening in agriculture. That’s the thing that’s really going to make a difference, when these people hear from the voters.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.
Communications Assistant, AFBF