Smith: The 56 organizations that signed on to the letter represent a broad range of interests, including farming, ranching, conservation, and lending. Andrew Walmsley, AFBF director of congressional relations, says this is the time of year to pay attention to the federal budget.
Walmsley: The Appropriations and Budget Committees will be making decisions for next year’s budget for the U.S. government, and we wanted to make sure with the downturn in the farm economy that no arbitrary cuts are made, particularly to crop insurance, but there will be other letters and overtures we’ll be making to ensure all farm programs are protected as we go through this budgeting process.
Smith: The current downturn in the farm economy is the number one reason the groups came together to write the letter.
Walmsley: It’s crucial to the economic and feed security of rural America that cuts aren’t made to those programs, that they are fiscally sound, and that they work for producers. So, as we go through this budget season, it’s going on record about how important these programs are for crop insurance, for risk management programs, that they aren’t cut, and make the hardships that folks are experiencing any more difficult than they already are.
Smith: Walmsley says as the budgeting process goes forward, it’s important for members to get involved in the policy development happening in Washington, D.C.
Walmsley: Not only in the appropriations and budget process, the USDS is looking for input on implementation of the farm bill. So, there’s really quite a few things going on around Washington when it comes to farm policy. One is playing a lot of defense on the hill, but then also working with USDA to make sure that the 2018 Farm Bill is implemented in a way that Farm Bureau understands it, and also how Congress wrote the legislation, so plenty of opportunity to be involved.
Smith: Chad Smith, Washington.