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Farmers discuss Farm Bill issues with legislators during NSAC event

Farmers discuss Farm Bill issues with legislators during NSAC event

Producers talked about the programs farmers need to continue to be successful

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

More than 20 farmers representing 13 agricultural U.S. states met with Farm Bill legislators during a National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) fly-in event in Washington D.C. earlier this week.

Producers discussed key issues from NSAC’s Farm Bill platform, which the organization released last month.

NSAC’s agenda includes modernizing crop insurance and budget recommendations.

The President’s 2018 USDA budget summary including eliminating some conservation programs. Farmers took the opportunity to tell lawmakers how vital those programs are to land stewardship, said Juli Obudzinski, deputy policy director with NSAC.

“Some of our farmers discussed the Farm Bill conservation programs, how they’re benefitting farmers, how they’re helping farmers be better stewards of the land and that (the programs) need to be protected during the next Farm Bill debate,” she told today.

Juli Obudzinski
Photo NSAC

Other conversations focused on starting a new farm venture.

The cost of American farm real estate averaged $3,080 per acre this year, up $70 an acre from 2016, according to the USDA’s 2017 Land Values Summary.

New producers need to be reassured that they’ll be able to afford to start a farm, Obudzinki said.

“We’re seeing major challenges with folks that are trying to get started in farming,” she said. “We need to make sure the Farm Bill is one for the future and how it can invest in the next generation of farmers.”

And further discussion topics included linking local and regional food systems, as well as research opportunities and investments that allow farmers to diversify and scale up their operations.

The overarching theme to the event, Obudzinski said, is that farmers are meeting face-to-face with the people responsible for drafting the next Farm Bill.

And more farmers need to take the time to do the same.

“I can’t underscore how important it is for farmers to make their voices heard,” she said.

“There are a lot of programs at stake that completely run out of funding at the end of next September (when the current Farm Bill expires). Unless legislators hear from farmers and members of the rural community, they won’t have the information they need to make their decisions.”