Farm Bill Not Just a Farmer’s Concern

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News & People in the News

Published on June 20, 2018 with No Comments

by Randy Kron, Indiana Farm Bureau president 

If you’re not involved in the farming industry, you may think that the farm bill doesn’t affect you. But that’s not the case.

The first farm bill was passed during the Great Depression to assist struggling farmers. Today, the farm bill is a piece of legislation that is typically renewed every five years. It gives farmers a safety net in case a natural disaster strikes, allows for strategic planning for farm operations and much more.

The farm bill contains 12 sections, called titles. These titles detail funding for important programs such as conservation, rural development and crop insurance, which essentially functions like your homeowner’s insurance. The title in the farm bill that receives the most funding is the nutrition title.

About 80 percent of the farm bill’s $489 billion price tag goes toward the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program helps low-income Americans in cities and rural communities feed their families. It also funds various nutrition programs. As a farmer, it’s important to me that people across our country have access to the nutritious foods they need.

A strong farm bill helps keep our nation’s food supply in great shape. If farmers have the programs and assurances they need to run their operations, everyone benefits with the end result – quality, affordable food. With a good farm bill, farmers know what to expect and can plot a course for the next five years of farming. This makes America’s farmers very efficient.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 98 percent of farms in the U.S. are owned by families or individuals. Those farm families are feeling pressure right now. Net farm income is down 50 percent compared to just five years ago and one in 10 farmers is highly leveraged in regard to loans that must be repaid. These families are relying on the U.S. House and Senate to pass the farm bill before it expires on Sept. 30.

Our nation’s farmers produce a vast majority of the food eaten in the U.S. According to USDA, Indiana ranks 11th in the nation in agricultural sales, and those sales contribute an estimated $31.2 billion to the Hoosier economy each year. Agriculture is an integral component of our economy.

The House version of the farm bill didn’t pass on May 18 due to an unrelated immigration dispute. There is another vote scheduled in the House for June 22. The Senate released its farm bill on June 8, and it passed the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on June 13 by a vote of 20-1. Ideally, both versions will be completed by the July 7 recess, and the House and Senate can begin their conference committee work on their return to Washington, D.C.

Indiana’s farmers and consumers are relying on Congress to pass this farm bill. When you look at the food access and affordability components paired with the economic impact of agriculture, it’s easy to see the farm bill is not just a farmer’s issue.

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