American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall today emphasized the importance of the farm bill during testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade. The hearing focused on commodity programs, credit and crop insurance.
President Duvall told lawmakers that the wide-ranging farm bill touches every family in America, not just those in rural America. “A country that cannot feed its people is not secure, so the strong farm policy that supports a strong food supply truly is part of a smart national security strategy,” Duvall said. Watch the video clip here.
After his opening statement, President Duvall took questions from lawmakers, including Subcommittee Chair Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), who asked about Farm Bureau priorities for the farm bill. Mr. Duvall responded that farmers across the country have identified two key issues. “The first thing you hear about is [we’ve got to] keep crop insurance intact. And, we need to broaden it for specialty crops that don’t have the opportunity to use it. The second thing is they talk about the cost of inputs and that the Title I reference prices do not match up with the cost of production, so it is not a true safety net.” Watch the video clip here.
On Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s (R-Miss.) question about the potential impact of reducing funding for critical farm and nutrition programs, President Duvall said, “If you take those programs away, it brings more uncertainty to the markets. Those programs we already mentioned are a public-private investment in agriculture, which keeps food at a more reasonable cost for all the consumers across the country, and it also [gives] farmers an opportunity to continue farming after a major disaster, or drought, or whatever they might be facing. So, for the interest of the whole country and all the consumers and national security, we need to make sure that we have this farm bill that not only supports farmers, but also the people who are in a part of their life where they need a hand up and a helping hand through nutrition programs.” Watch the video clip here.
When asked by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) about what investments could make America’s famers more competitive, Mr. Duvall responded, “We are being outspent by other countries, especially China, three-to-one in research and development dollars, the statistics tell me. Research and development is what keeps us on the cutting edge, it keeps us more competitive across the world, it keeps us more sustainable, it makes us more friendly to the environment, and it makes our businesses more efficient in having new research coming down the pike.” Watch the video clip here.
He also said there is growing interest in farm bill-funded conservation programs, “The list is long for people waiting to get funded for EQIP and many other programs that are offered through the conservation programs… What people don’t really realize is that if it’s market, and voluntary, and science based, farmers will step up and take advantage of it and do all of the right things because it is a partnership. To the tune of 140 million acres across America, farmers have stepped up in those conservation programs. They will continue to do that in conservation and climate as long as it's voluntary, market-based.” Watch the video clip here.
You can view the entire hearing here.
Read the AFBF written testimony here.