by Garrett Hawkins
A thriving agricultural economy benefits all Americans, giving everyone an interest in having Congress pass – and President Obama sign – a new five-year farm bill before the current law expires at the end of September.
Agriculture contributes $100 billion to America’s economy each year, and the food and agriculture sector accounts for approximately 20 percent of our country’s economic activity. Agriculture is a driver of America’s economy, and failure to pass a farm bill threatens an activity that touches literally every American. Congress must stop foot-dragging and gridlock on the farm bill. The farm bill helps farmers and ranchers deal with the risks that threaten their ability to produce the food, fiber and fuel we all need.
Farm Bureau members support a farm bill that encourages farmers to follow market signals, strengthens the federal crop insurance program, offers a choice of program options and ensures equity across commodities. Bills pending in Congress have these prerequisites and save billions of dollars.
As Congress continues to debate the 2013 farm bill against a backdrop of reduced government spending, Farm Bureau places a high priority on ensuring the farm bill benefits all agricultural commodity sectors, including row crop, fruit and vegetable, dairy and other areas. The new farm bill should balance all of these interests. Farm Bureau’s Bring the Heat campaign illustrated these points to lawmakers while they were home during the August congressional break.
Congress has tough issues to tackle, but passing a new farm bill does not have to be one of them. For all Americans, it is time for lawmakers to come together and finish the job.
Garrett Hawkins, of Jefferson City is director of national legislative programs for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.