Thanks to the hard work of Farm Bureau leaders across this country, we have been sowing the seeds for the 2018 farm bill for many months, but now we need all hands to come out for the harvest. Together, we’ve looked at what works and what doesn’t, and what can be done better. The House Agriculture Committee has heard and heeded the concerns of farmers and ranchers across this country, and they are ready to help deliver the 2018 farm bill we need.
Chairman Conaway and the House Agriculture Committee kept their word and brought a reform-focused farm bill to Congress swiftly. H.R. 2, “The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018,” could come up for a vote as early as next week, and we cannot risk division or delay to the legislation. Every lawmaker needs to hear from a farmer or rancher this week. When members of Congress return to Washington next week, there should be no question in their minds as to how important the 2018 farm bill is to agriculture and our rural economy. At Farm Bureau, our strength is in our grassroots, in the passion each one of you has for your life’s work and in how dedicated you are to be growing a safe, sustainable food supply.
We need to tell Congress that this farm bill is good for farmers and good for our country. Times are tough. While farmers are resilient, we have lost nearly half of our net farm income in the last five years. We need certainty for these uncertain times. The 2018 farm bill would protect federal crop insurance and address challenges facing dairy and cotton farmers. The bill continues the work of streamlining and improving programs that encourage our conservation work and promote critical research and development for farming practices. Farmers want to keep agriculture moving forward and sustainable for current and future generations, but we must be able to hold on through the tough times to do that.
The 2018 farm bill is good for the farm economy and our nation’s economy. Farm Bureau is proud to support this bill because it is fiscally responsible. Even amid great financial hardship for agriculture, we are doing our part to help tighten the belt on the federal budget. The House bill is expected contribute $112 billion to deficit reduction over 10 years’ time.
Farmers can also be proud to support the 2018 farm bill because it is good for all Americans. Farm programs and reformed nutrition aid must remain unified if we’re going to secure a stable food supply for all. The new working standards and guidelines for education programs proposed in the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 would give Americans struggling with poverty not only access to the nutrition they need, but also a pathway to learn and enter a new career and get back on their feet. As farmers, we want to see the food we grow get to all Americans’ plates. Our nation’s ability to raise the next generation of citizens, soldiers and leaders depends on it.
Every five years, the farm bill provides a great opportunity for agriculture and for our country. As farmers and ranchers, we can speak up on how important these programs are to our livelihood and our ability to grow the food, fuel and fiber we all enjoy. And as a nation, we have the chance to support good nutrition for all and work together to protect the safe, affordable food supply we all depend on.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.