Collin Peterson, former Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, wrote a must-read op-ed outlining the FACTS behind farm policy.
“We have agriculture policy in this country for a reason. Among the lessons the pandemic taught us is not to take for granted full grocery shelves, safe food, and the fact that we as Americans pay less in disposable income on food than anyone else in the world,” wrote Chairman Peterson, who served as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee twice during his thirty years in Congress.
As Chairman Peterson explained, farm policy critics, such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG), misuse statistics surrounding farm policy benefits in order to sway lawmakers and the public to support their ideas for “reform.” These ideas invariably mean no crop insurance for farm and ranch families; no conservation incentives to promote cleaner air and water, soil health, wildlife and wildlife habitat, and climate change mitigation; and no U.S. response to the predatory trade practices of countries such as China that unfairly use high and rising subsidies, tariffs, and non-tariff trade barriers to the great detriment of U.S. farm and ranch families.
Chairman Peterson noted that if the critics, such as EWG, had their way, it would not only harm family farmers and ranchers, putting our food, feed, fiber, and fuel security in jeopardy, it would also severely damage the U.S. economy.
Here are a few facts at a quick glance that Chairman Peterson shared in his op-ed:
These are real, dirt-under-the-fingernails, farm and ranch families.
Federal farm policy is a good investment. Last year, only about 0.3% of federal spending was spent on farm policies, including conservation, crop insurance, and the farm safety net in the Farm Bill. By the way, farmers paid $6.8 billion last year to buy federal crop insurance coverage.
U.S. spending on the entire farm safety net comes nowhere near that. As Chairman Peterson wrote, “we have among the lowest tariffs and domestic support in the world because we are confident in our producers’ success if we simply have a level playing field.”
Farm Bill conservation programs are a critical tool to combat climate change, giving farmers resources to protect wildlife and wildlife habit and invest in the health of their soil, water, and air.
Farming and ranching create jobs up and down Main Street – from the rural countryside to urban cityscapes. In 2021, those who feed us created more than 21 million jobs, with 2.6 million people working directly on the farm.
The USDA definition of a farmer could include a 4-H student who sells show cows or a retired couple who lives on a hobby farm. This is one of the reasons why EWG’s numbers are so misleading. Full-time farmers obviously look larger in terms of annual sales of farm products compared to a 4-H student or retired hobby farmer. The Farm Bill’s safety net is also tailored to mitigate the huge risks that full time farm and ranch families face every day.
As Chairman Peterson points out, there will be a lot of input from all different perspectives on the 2023 Farm Bill.
“But the misuse of statistics is not helpful to the process.”