It’s the second week of the Congressional recess and across the nation lawmakers are meeting with constituents in their home districts.
Recently, the tables were turned and farmers from across the country were flying to Washington to meet with members of Congress in their offices.
Regardless of the meetings’ locations, the messages that are being delivered from farm country are the same: Farmers are thanking Congress for a strong Farm Bill while reminding lawmakers that times are still tough in rural America.
As commodity prices stretch into the fifth straight year of lows, now more than ever, farmers and rural communities need a strong safety net and strong international trade policies that provide new markets and level playing fields.
Farm Policy Facts recently caught up with two sugar farmers who traveled to Washington last month to make the case for smart farm policies. Their stories were captured in a new podcast, Groundwork, that debuts April 22 on farmpolicyfacts.org.
Sugarbeet farmer John Snyder, of Wyoming, noted the impact sugarbeets and sugarcane have on the nation’s rural community with 142,000 jobs in 22 states. The Farm Bill’s sugar policy keeps the industry competitive with subsidized sugar on the world market and keeps people employed.
“It trickles down to the people who work for us on the farms, it trickles down the supply houses here in town, to the people who do our repairs,” he says. “It’s a huge part of our economy.”
Sugarcane farmer Travis Medine, of Louisiana, explained that his crop is harvested for four years on an initial planting – a timeline that makes business planning difficult without the stability provided by the sugar policy in the Farm Bill.
“A lot of people don’t understand that’s a very, very long-term investment,” he says. “Not only is it labor intensive and costly, we have to know that safety net is there. That way we know we are going to get the most out of our investment.”
Hear more from Snyder and Medine on Groundwork. The monthly show will focus on a range of policy issues that are important to American farmers in upcoming episodes.