As a fourth generation Mississippi farmer, I grew up knowing that I worked in a field full of risks. When the weather cooperates, prices dive. When prices are great, foreign markets collapse, sending prices into a sudden nosedive. It’s always something. However, it wasn’t until I actually set out on my own in farming in 2011 that I fully understood just how financially exposed farmers are when they put a crop in the ground.
American wheat farmers lose close to $1 billion in revenue each year because certain countries are violating trade rules under the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, according to a new study.
USDA forecasts that when all is said and done, American farmers will have a combined farm income that is less than half of what it was just two years ago. This alone is staggering. But it may well mark just the beginning of a depressed farm economy the effects of which may very well adversely impact the entire sector and cascade across other sectors of our economy.
It’s bizarre that groups claiming to carry President Reagan’s mantel, such as Heritage Action, have targeted U.S. farm policy for elimination.
“Heritage Action and groups like it had better get serious because they are losing credibility fast and they are damaging the conservative cause.”
If ever we lose the hard-working independent family farms that take care of the nation’s landscape while producing a diverse set of crops more reliably and efficiently than any farm sector in history, then, and only then will we truly understand the value they provide.
Nearly a decade ago, the World Trade Organization found the European Union guilty of violating trade rules. Since that ruling, the EU has implemented radical changes to its sugar policy. But, will those changes help further free trade and lead to a subsidy-free system as some in the EU are claiming?
Whether you’re a peach grower in South Carolina like me or a corn farmer in Iowa or a cherry grower in Michigan or a cotton farmer in Texas, crop insurance is designed to cover you when disasters strike. And the more farmers buying policies, the better we all are in the long run because that spreads the risk.
“The group claims it wants to measure farmers’ attitudes on crop insurance, but instead of asking unprejudiced questions, it simply requests farmers to back its inaccurate representation of crop insurance.”
Lawmakers should oppose any effort to undermine the farm safety net for any crop during the appropriations process. Congress has already held this debate, and rural Americans have made long-term business decisions based on the bill approved in 2014. To introduce uncertainty into the marketplace so soon thereafter would simply be irresponsible.
Unilateral disarmament will do nothing to help U.S. consumers or a U.S. economy that depends on a thriving agricultural sector. It will only reward China and other bad actors, while leaving hardworking American farmers powerless the next time storm clouds gather.
We cannot afford any animosity within our own ranks. It is fodder for our foes. It is an excuse for policymakers to cut up what remains of the farm safety net. It is a deterrent for recruiting the next generation of leaders on Capitol Hill and beyond.
Despite what farm policy critics would have you believe, farm policy is anything but a handout for farmers. In fact, newly released data from the National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) demonstrates that farmers are taking care of their own and in the process reducing the cost to the federal government.
Crop insurance is the cornerstone of the farm bill’s safety net and our job now is to make sure we don’t do anything to mess it up.
This recent headline says it all. The diversity of American agricultural production coupled with the varied growing conditions across the country and the swings in weather explains why farmers need a safety net. More importantly, it describes why crop insurance is the centerpiece of the farm safety net.
And a new study commissioned by U.S. sugar producers sheds light on the intricate web of Thai subsidies.
Farmers face a lot of risks the rest of us don’t. And given the capital requirements of farming today, each of these risks has big financial consequences.
The headline in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial read: “Paying for ethanol at the pump and on the plate.” It caught our eye for the fact that it doesn’t even pass the commonsense test. Gas prices are way down and projected to stay that way. So, too, are corn prices.
A financially healthy rural economy requires a financially healthy farm production sector. And that sector relies on a safety net when catastrophic events happen. It is a modest investment considering the return, which is a stable and affordable national food and fiber supply.
We have a strong foundation for cultivating the next generation of farmers in the 2014 Farm Bill, but the law needs to be fully implemented for any of this to matter. Although it is on the books for five years, it is likely to be under attack during the annual appropriations process.
Crop insurance products were improved in the recent farm bill because Congress recognized that these products are a necessity for farmers regardless of size. To me, a federally-supported crop insurance policy is defensible because a portion of the product’s cost is borne by the farmer.
In the midst of the spring planting season, a couple of farmers took to the opinion pages over the weekend to explain the importance of their primary risk management tool: crop insurance.
Some stereotypes about U.S. farm policy just won’t die. For example, the belief that farmers get paid for not growing; or that benefits just go to big agribusinesses; or that farm spending is out of control. Such criticisms make splashy headlines but are no longer relevant thanks to the significant evolution of farm policy over the past 20 years
“EWG has no credibility.” Farm Policy Facts has been saying this for years about the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and it looks like quite a few Capitol Hill leaders agree. The direct quote came from House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who spoke last week to The Hagstrom Report. Peterson was not alone in giving EWG a congressional smack down.
Maintaining a modest response to the cheaters by preserving U.S. farm policy is not only the right thing to do, it is also an essential means of maintaining support for trade and the only leverage the United States has in getting our trading partners to one day tear down the walls they have been so busy building.
There’s a reason the 2014 Farm Bill made crop insurance the centerpiece of U.S. farm policy. It is an effective risk management tool for not only farmers, but also taxpayers.
Sometimes it seems like farm policy critics are stuck in the past, using the same old set of talking points for every congressional debate instead of taking the time to update them to reflect the real reforms that are underway.
A recent study released from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) sheds light on significant trade barriers American goods and services face in some of the largest export markets like China, Canada, the European Union (EU), and others.
My husband and I have been farming in Southeastern Colorado for more than 40 years, and during that time the biggest policy change through the years has been the affordability and availability of crop insurance.
We can’t assume policymakers understand the anxiety we feel when we’re days away from harvesting a good crop and it’s destroyed in a matter of minutes by something beyond our control.
Farm Policy Facts is pleased to publish a guest editorial from U.S. Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska that addresses the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.
Keith Mussman, a farmer and president of the Kankakee County Farm Bureau, took to the editorial pages of The Daily Journal a few days ago to express what is on the minds of farmers all across the country: give crop insurance and the 2014 Farm Bill a chance to work.
In times like these, Washington should be applauding the agricultural community for the contributions it has already made, not working to make things even harder by jeopardizing the one thing farmers should be able to count on: the just-passed farm safety net.
By Charles F. Conner Some of America’s best loved brands—Land O’Lakes butter, Blue Diamond almonds, Welch’s grape juice, Riceland, and Sunkist oranges, to name a few—come from cooperatives that are wholly owned by the men and women who actually grow the crops. The old adage that “necessity is the mother of invention” could reasonably describe…
The critics of U.S. farm policy should feast their eyes on a new study that puts into perspective what America’s farmers are up against on the global market. While the U.S. made sweeping reforms and cuts to farm policy in the 2014 Farm Bill, its competitors were busy ramping up trade-distorting subsidies for their own producers. For some countries, support price levels for certain commodities have increased by more than 100 percent over the last decade, according to the report.
The nations in question include Brazil, China, India, Turkey, and Thailand – all member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The report, which was sponsored by U.S. commodity organizations including the USA Rice Federation and is an update of a 2011 study, explains that “these countries are major producers, consumers, and in many cases, exporters of agricultural products, the effects of [their] policies are felt globally.”
Much has been made about the President’s FY2016 budget and its proposed cuts to the risk management tools on which farmers depend. In fact, leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have been critical of the budget for its attack on crop insurance, and lawmakers recently received a pointed letter on the subject from…
The critics of farm policy are so desperate to be relevant in a town bent on reform that they continue to gin up so-called news stories where none exist, using outdated numbers to point to issues long ago corrected. Poor L.A. Times for taking the bait recently and printing propaganda, instead of real news.
But, this presents a valuable opportunity to educate the critics on farm policy and the many changes that have taken place throughout the years.
Let us explain.
Last week, newspapers in two different and diverse regions of the country featured editorials on the importance of crop insurance, which highlights how it has become the risk management of choice for farmers nationwide. Steve Baccus, a family farmer from Kansas and the former president of the Kansas Farm Bureau, wrote in the Wichita Eagle that…
Coalition Opposes President’s Proposed Crop Insurance Cuts, Urges Legislators to Protect Farm Safety Net
On the heels of the president’s budget release that proposed harmful cuts to crop insurance, a diverse group of farming organizations, agricultural businesses, banks, and equipment manufacturers sent a letter to Capitol Hill urging legislators to reject the president’s plan and to protect crop insurance in upcoming congressional budget proposals.
The merits of having a strong farm policy, including risk management tools like crop insurance, are many times overlooked, dismissed, and even criticized by the leading papers and media outlets of the day. Instead, the critics of farm policy are given far more opportunities to rail against our nation’s secure food supply and the people…