From the farmer who plants the seed to the grocer who sells the produce, we applaud every single person who supports our food chain. Thank you for setting aside your own fears. For working hard days and long weeks. For feeding our families.
Farming is a tough business, fraught with uncertainty. Thankfully, Congress used the 2018 Farm Bill to strengthen many of the programs farmers use to manage risk, including the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs.
Protecting farm policy is key to supporting rural America’s efforts on sustainability. Farmers have to be able to earn a living and maintain economic stability in order to invest in sustainability. Farm policy provides a helping hand during the tough times and makes that possible.
Combined with the Farm Bureau’s analysis that Chapter 12 family farm bankruptcies last year increased by nearly 20 percent over 2018 and projections that major commodity prices will remain low, things look outright dismal for farm country. In now its 7th year of recession, the rural economy is struggling. And farmers are feeling the pressure.
Finalizing a trade agreement with Japan could secure valuable market access for several American commodities and ignite a new momentum for the President’s trade agenda. Trade attorney John Gilliland joined Groundwork to discuss what this means for agriculture and the status of several other ongoing trade negotiations.
As China continues to raise barriers blocking the import of American farm products, the USDA recently announced registration for the second round of Market Facilitation Payments (MFP). President Trump has authorized up to $14.5 billion in MFP payments, meant to help mitigate the negative effects of retaliatory tariffs stemming from ongoing trade disputes.
To take a deeper dive into agricultural subsidies, Groundwork reached out to one of the foremost experts, Dr. Darren Hudson. Hudson is the Director of the International Center for Agricultural Competitiveness at Texas Tech University, where they maintain a database of international subsidies and examine how they affect the competitiveness of American farmers on the global stage.
Groundwork caught up with Ruth Gerdes, President of Auburn Agency Crop Insurance, in late June while she was on Capitol Hill to testify before the House Agriculture Committee about what she calls the “the jewel in the crown of U.S. farm policy.”
Trade has always been a vital part of farm income, and the importance of creating a level playing field for America’s farm and ranch families has only grown as the world population expands and demand for high-quality, home-grown American agriculture products rises.
Hoffman joined Farm Policy Facts from his farm in New Ulm, Minnesota to share with Groundwork listeners how momentum is building both across the heartland and within the halls of Congress to move immediately on the ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Prospects for passage of the so-called USMCA received a big boost in recent weeks as the United States and its trading partners reached agreements eliminating or avoiding tariffs tied to metal imports and immigration policy.
Rural America is resilient. Our farmers will continue to work the land in hopes that the next season will bring renewed abundance. But they are also relying on Washington, DC to take decisive action to stand by U.S. farm families as we negotiate a quick end to ongoing trade disputes. Standing idle and allowing rural America to endure another farm crisis like the one we faced in the 1980s would set our economy back in incalculable ways. We must support our farmers through these challenging times, just as they support us every day.
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. 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.
The USDA quietly released a statistic in March that should alarm us all. More than seven dairy farms folded every day in 2018, and it’s easy to see why. America’s farmers and ranchers are in their 6th straight year of economic recession, with no end in sight.
Escalating debt-to-asset ratios reported by USDA last week and rising farm bankruptcies have spurred an increasing number of farm and ranch leaders to call for an extended Market Facilitation Program or congressionally enacted relief, whether in the form of a strengthened Farm Bill safety net or one-time legislative relief.
As farmers across the country prepare for the 2019 planting season, the one question on everyone’s minds seems to be: will the new Farm Bill provide an adequate safety net to see farm families through another brutal year?
As the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the 2018 farm bill on Wednesday, a great cheer rose from farms and ranches across America. Maybe they couldn’t hear it inside the House chamber, but here in farm country, the sound was deafening. It was the early Christmas gift farmers had hoped for and Congress delivered just in time.
The global unfair trade practices that hurt American farmers and ranchers every day aren’t exactly state secrets, despite claims by opponents of agriculture who blindly argue that they don’t really exist or matter.
By this point, we are all exhausted by the endless rhetoric about America being a divided nation – a country of haves and have-nots. But, we think it’s important right now to explore this concept of division a little further. We’re not talking about partisan sniping. We’re talking about moisture and weather.
Selling more U.S. farm product overseas is the most important issue for farmers this time around – outranking even the war on terror, deficit reduction and healthcare. Not far behind on the list was passing the new Farm Bill, which was more important to farm voters than rural job creation, infrastructure improvements, immigration and lowering taxes.
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump and his trade team announced a modernized trade pact with Mexico and Canada, and most of agriculture cheered. But it was a comment about another country during the White House press conference that really caught our attention. India is “the tariff king,” the President said. “India charges tariffs of 100 percent … that’s not free trade.”
America’s struggling farm economy is heading for even bigger declines, according to recent surveys, and the nation’s top bankers say manufacturers should expect a major drop in sales of new equipment. Inflation-adjusted net farm income, which is a broad measure of profits, is expected to be down by $11.4 billion, or nearly 15 percent, this year compared to 2017, according to USDA’s August Farm Income Forecast.
As the 2018 Farm Bill debate plays out in Congress, farmers across the nation are getting in front of the camera to tell their stories with the hopes that lawmakers will understand just how important a strong farm policy is to rural America.
August is typically a down time in DC, but that has not been the case this year. Among other things, lots of work was being done on the Farm Bill.
Summer is just about over, and Labor Day on the horizon signals that harvest is near. That means, it’s time to go to work. Farmers are watching Washington, D.C. as lawmakers return to finish some important Farm Bill business.
Following a relatively smooth markup in the Senate Agriculture Committee, the Farm Bill now moves to the Senate floor for consideration, and congressional leaders intend to have debate wrapped up before Independence Day.
When the Senate overwhelmingly passed its Farm Bill – just days after the House did the same – applause from the agricultural community was swift and loud. The bill, once reconciled in conference, will provide some economic certainty and help mitigate farm risk.
When Congressmen Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill in 2007 that would have gutted U.S. farm policy and put American jobs at risk, the outcry from the agricultural community was swift and fierce. A campaign backed by farmers quickly labeled their plan “Kinda Flakey” and highlighted the disastrous effects it would have on commodities and rural communities from coast to coast.
It’s been a lively Farm Bill season, with a slew of anti-farmer amendments going down in flames. But one of farm policy’s most vocal opponents has been conspicuously quiet…until now. The Environmental Working Group came roaring back this week with a new “study” that – true to form – breaks no new ground and is largely a recycling of old irrelevant data.
Prices and farm incomes are in the tank. Ongoing international trade talks are affecting overseas markets. Congress is debating a Farm Bill that will determine growers’ ability to mitigate risk. Mother Nature is wreaking havoc across the country – with farmers in the Great Plains facing drought and southern growers getting pounded by rain.
In our view, this kind of open, honest debate beats the sneaky subterfuge of some past farm bill debates where pernicious amendments to gut U.S. farm policy have masqueraded as “reforms” in order to confuse the debate. The Heritage Foundation has made it perfectly clear that it opposes any safety net whatsoever for America’s farmers or ranchers because Heritage denies any unique risks to farming and ranching.
A Farm Policy Facts writer was in the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota yesterday, visiting with sugarbeet farmers who are planting this year’s crop. Farmers there are worried. Worried about the weather, which delayed planting. Worried about the markets, which have been slow to recover after Mexico illegally dumped subsidized surpluses here and…
Farmers in West Texas and other parts of the Great Plains would love to be busier planting right now, but they’re having to reconsider because the ground is so dry it could destroy the seeds.
It’s a busy time to be a farmer. Many are in their fields planting, or preparing to do so. They are literally “covering the ground” – cultivating roughly 300 million acres and preparing crops to be harvested in the fall to feed and clothe the world.
U.S. flagged vessels headed for China made an abrupt U-turn last month and headed for new ports. It wasn’t the weather that forced the change of course, but rather the contents in the ships’ hulls. Although the cargo involved is relatively small in the overall scope of agricultural trade, it did send off alarm bells for farmers who are depending on exports to lift them out of a slumping rural economy marked by low commodity prices.
How does the bill “modernize” sugar policy? It mandates that the U.S. Department of Agriculture invite heavily subsidized foreign imports into the U.S., artificially depressing farmer prices and rewarding bad actors abroad. Worse yet, the bill denies sugar producers the basic non-recourse loans available to other commodities, meaning failure to repay would result not just in the loss of crops pledged as collateral but in total bankruptcy.
The Farm Bill debate is officially underway with the House Agricultural Committee marking up H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, this week. Members of Congress have heard from growers and business owners over the last several months in listening sessions, during personal visits and in opinion pieces published in newspapers across the nation.
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal revealed a rarely-discussed phenomenon of farmers being forced to take second and even third jobs as they try to keep their family farms afloat.
Congress passed the first Farm Bill to help real Old MacDonalds who were struggling during the Great Depression. And lawmakers revisit the bill about every 5 years because, in contrast to the nursery rhyme, Old MacDonalds must constantly evolve with new tools, technologies and techniques to meet new challenges.
America enjoys the most affordable, widely available food supply in the history of mankind for about one-quarter of 1% of the federal budget. That’s why it’s so odd that organizations dedicated to defending taxpayers spend so much time focused on gutting farm policy.
Displays of bipartisanship are an increasingly rare sight in Washington these days, but when it comes to prioritizing the need for strong farm policies during difficult times, Agriculture Committee leadership appear to be on the same page.