> The Zipline

#StillFarming: Why the Farm Bill Matters


Farm Bill

Zippy Duvall


photo credit: Alabama Farm Bureau, Used with Permission

Three years ago, Farm Bureau launched our #StillFarming campaign. Our goal was simple: reassure Americans that farmers and ranchers were committed to maintaining a steady food supply at a time when many Americans witnessed empty grocery store shelves for the first time in generations and supply chain disruptions made headlines. Farmers and ranchers take great pride in rising each day to grow the food, fuel and fiber we all depend on, and managing risk on the farm is critical to keeping food on our tables. We are still farming, for our neighbors near and far, thanks to our public investment in U.S. agriculture through the farm bill.

Thanks to risk management programs in the farm bill, farmers can hold on through tough times like high inflation, global market turmoil and natural disasters. We are also building a more sustainable future through conservation programs and agricultural research and helping families facing hunger to keep food on the table through tough times. The farm bill matters to all Americans, and 73% of adults recognize there would be a significant impact if the farm bill were not reauthorized.

We are still farming, for our neighbors near and far, thanks to our public investment in U.S. agriculture through the farm bill.

Not many Americans today are very familiar with the farm bill, though. To be fair, it’s a big piece of legislation that comes up just once every five years. Even in Congress, many lawmakers are new to the farm bill as nearly half of them have been elected since the 2018 bill. The American Farm Bureau recently conducted a survey to better understand where public opinion and awareness stands on the farm bill and funding for key programs. We found that 71% of adults had not read or heard much of anything about the farm bill. This was a big reminder that we’ve got a lot of work to do.

The good news is that when it comes to talking about the farm bill, farmers and ranchers are perfect for the job. The American people trust us—nearly 9 out of 10, in fact, say they trust farmers. That’s higher than any other profession. Americans have not forgotten those empty shelves, and they are counting on our success on the farm to keep store shelves and pantries full for everyone. We found there is strong support for risk management programs with the most adults (67%) ranking that as one of the top priorities for federal funding in the farm bill. Risk management along with nutrition programs came in as top funding priorities among those surveyed.

This affirms what we have said for a long time across the agriculture community—the farm bill must remain unified. In fact, support for the farm bill dropped by half when we asked folks if they would still support a farm bill that no longer included funding for nutrition programs. The farm bill’s nutrition programs provide a critical link to families hundreds and thousands of miles from our farms. America’s farmers and ranchers are proud to grow the food that helps supply billions of meals annually to families facing hunger.

With the added pressures of inflation and rising food costs, we found that most people now see the security of our food supply as critical. Not too long ago, I’d say many took it for granted that we have an abundant supply of American grown products. But following supply chain disruptions and global events like the war between Russia and Ukraine, Americans’ eyes have been opened to how fragile our food system is. Eighty-four percent say that, in light of recent disruptions, the U.S. should make our food supply a matter of national security. Simply meaning, we are a stronger country when we can grow our own food.

Farmers and ranchers take great pride in our work—it is truly a calling for us. We show up, rain or shine, to grow and raise safe, sustainable food, fuel and fiber. We have found our purpose on the farm, and I believe we are still farming because we love the land and this great country. Farmers have America’s back when times are tough, and it’s important for us to know that America has our back and is committed to helping us keep our farms and food supply secure in all seasons. That’s exactly what the farm bill achieves.