While the farm bill is commonly thought of as a piece of agricultural legislation, the nutrition title of the bill is just as important and just as beneficial to farmers and ranchers. Micheal Clements shares more on why the nutrition title is vital to the legislation.
Clements: Over the years, there’s been some talk of splitting farm programs and nutrition programs in the farm bill to separate bills. However, Utah Farm Bureau member Tyson Roberts says the two programs need to be connected. Roberts is a produce grower that sells direct to consumers.
Roberts: I am the sixth generation on our family farm. Over the years we've done a lot of different things, cattle and a lot of grain crops, got more into vegetables as I was growing up. We switched more to vegetables and specifically direct marketed vegetables, so now, about 85 percent of our crops go directly to consumers at farmer's markets.
Clements: Customers at the farmer’s markets can use their SNAP benefits, funded by the farm bill, to purchase fresh, local food.
Roberts: It's been beneficial to have that option available to those in our communities that are most in need, giving them the opportunity to buy the freshest, high-quality produce and use their SNAP benefits to receive that. And it helps us boost our sales, as well, opening up to more customers.
Clements: Roberts says farm programs and the nutrition program go hand-in-hand.
Roberts: It's tough to get a farm bill passed that has all of the things that farmers need without the nutrition aspect of it because you have lawmakers on both sides of the aisle representing a lot of different demographics. And those urban legislators need to see something in the farm bill that's benefiting their constituents.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.
Editor's Note: This episode of Newsline is Part 2 of an ongoing series on the importance of the farm bill. Each week, Newsline will feature the story of a farmer, rancher or member directly impacted by farm bill programs. Learn more about the farm bill here.