October 16, 2017
This was President Ronald Reagan’s message to America’s struggling farmers on October 15, 1982. It’s a message worth remembering on its 35th anniversary, as we are again facing difficult times in farm country.
While a lot has changed over the past 35 years, President Reagan made several points during this special radio address that still ring true.
For example, the need for sustained credit and cash flow to farmers:
He also stressed the importance of exports:
And the importance of leveling the playing field on the global scale:
President Reagan said government’s proper role is “to act as friend, partner, and promoter of American farmers and their products.”
Ask any longtime farmer, and they will tell you that rural America hasn’t seen the kind of economic downturn its currently facing since the late 1990s and, before then, the farm crisis President Reagan navigated during his Administration.
They’ll also acknowledge that a few things have put us in a much better position to weather the storm.
One of the most important developments is a strong farm policy, which kicks in when prices are low and provides needed risk management tools like crop insurance.
While crop insurance might not make a farmer whole, it does provide a degree of needed protection to help them pick up the pieces. And combined with other policies in the Farm Bill, it gives lenders confidence to provide farmers the capital they need to make ends meet – so growers are planting and harvesting instead of selling the farm.
A continued commitment since Reagan’s era to open new overseas markets and hold foreign countries accountable for trade abuses has likewise improved conditions for America’s resilient and resourceful cultivators. This year, U.S. agriculture expects a trade surplus of $20 billion.
That’s important, because as President Reagan said, those who “produce the food and fiber essential to life itself are carrying tremendous burdens – sometimes impossible burdens.”
Wise words to heed as lawmakers begin writing a new Farm Bill and charting a course for the future – a hopeful future that President Reagan so eloquently summed up in his address all those years ago: