Planting The Seeds
Planting the Seeds for a Successful Farm Bill
By Todd Van Hoose, President and CEO, Farm Credit Council
With spring preparations well underway in fields and on farms across the Midsouth, we’re reminded about the hard work of farmers and ranchers to grow and raise our food and fiber.
Today, that work holds more importance than recent memory. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shaken markets and global supply routes. Many question whether America and the rest of the world have the capacity to add production to replace or mitigate price increases likely to worsen the already troubling rates of world hunger.
These challenges compound the difficulties America’s farmers and ranchers have faced throughout the pandemic, and which Americans in every corner of the country experienced at grocery stores. It also brought much-needed attention to American agriculture.
It highlighted the role your farm and the one next door play in feeding our country. It helped explain how food arrives in grocery stores and in restaurants. This process might seem obvious to you and me, but too many Americans have become significantly disconnected from the farms where their food is grown and raised.
Recent events, however painful and unplanned, create a “teachable moment” when those of us in agriculture can help reconnect consumers to the farms – and the farmers – that produce their food.
With this in mind, we begin to focus on Washington, D.C., as Congress prepares for the 2023 Farm Bill. Committees are holding oversight hearings on the impact of the last Farm Bill, with witnesses from commodity groups, farm organizations, and communities across rural America are sharing what works from the 2018 Farm Bill and where improvement would strengthen the farm safety net.
The Farm Bill, typically passed every five years, establishes the lion’s share of federal law that impacts America’s farmers and ranchers. It covers commodities, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, research and extension matters, forestry, energy, horticulture and crop insurance, among others.
There’s a lot at stake for farm families: the 2018 Farm Bill will provide a nearly $100 billion investment in agriculture across its five-year life.
While the level of attention paid to the Farm Bill has ebbed and flowed over the years, unfortunately, rural America finds itself with fewer and fewer advocates in Congress. This decreasing rural representation underscores the importance of advocating for strong agricultural programs.
Thankfully, rural America understands hard work and what’s required to accomplish a goal. With a proud history of coming together for the common good – often through cooperatives like Farm Credit – we talk, we listen, and we collaborate.
The same happens in Washington, D.C. Well, maybe not often or with much success in Congress. But American agriculture works together to educate lawmakers who might not understand what it takes to grow the food, fuel, and fiber our country needs to succeed, and the world needs today, more than ever.
We welcome farm groups, commodity groups, and anyone else interested in joining us – that’s our coalition. Together, we advocate for our farmers and ranchers. Together, we educate about modern, innovative agriculture.
This extraordinary undertaking requires everyone’s participation. And at the root of it: you. Your voices. Your stories. Your perspectives. Your relationships.
No one explains the importance of crop insurance better than a farmer who lost everything the prior year. No one explains conservation programs better than a rancher who started rotational grazing with assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Your voices and stories bring those programs to life. They explain the what and the why. Most importantly, they underscore the need for the farm programs that allow America’s farmers and ranchers to produce the world’s food and fiber in the most efficient, effective and affordable way possible.
So please join us. Add your voice. Add your story. Join Farm Credit’s grassroots program today. Help us ensure we have the voices and stories necessary when the Farm Bill debate heats up in the coming months. Visit www.FarmCredit.com/takeaction or just text us. Type in the phone number 52886 and send the word CREDIT. Click on the link we send back, share your contact information, and that’s all it takes.
Passing a Farm Bill when fewer and fewer Americans (let alone lawmakers) understand where their food comes from and what it takes to produce it is a tall task. We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again with your help. Join us. Join others in American agriculture. Raise your voice. Tell your story.
Todd Van Hoose is President and CEO of the Farm Credit Council, the Farm Credit System’s national trade organization. Farm Credit Council works in partnership with other farm and rural organizations to represent rural communities and agriculture and their interests in Washington, D.C.