Insight: Building a Better Farm Bill

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Glenn Brunkow,
Pottawatomie County farmer and rancher

It’s farm bill time again. The discussions are beginning to happen and starting to heat up. Over the past couple of months, the talks have switched from continuing on with a farm bill with similar policies as the 2018 version or options that are dramatically different. What will happen is really anyone’s guess, and that is both a challenge and an opportunity for Kansas Farm Bureau and agriculture in general.
There are a couple  of lines of thinking when it comes to what the farm bill might look like, both are tied to crop insurance. Crop insurance is probably the number one concern when it comes to a new farm bill. As ag producers we know that we rely on crop insurance to help us through weather events like drought and fluctuations in prices and income. It is our way of evening out income in a business that sees wide swings.
One school of thought is to tie crop insurance premiums to what we are doing to help with climate change. Kansas Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau policy would be very much opposed to this. We all know we are the best at conserving our natural resources, and no one care more about the environment than farmers and ranchers. The heartburn is in having practices mandated by those who may not understand agriculture and why we do what we do. Worse yet those mandates could come from others who might be opponents of modern agriculture.
Another idea is to tie crop insurance premiums to a producer’s income. Farm Bureau would also be opposed to such a means test. Again, risk management and protection should not be limited to one farmer over another. We also know that many of our large producers are multi-generational. Both of these options are only in the beginning level and that is why each of us can play such an important role as the debate over the next farm bill gets started.
It is important for each of us to reach out to our members of Congress to let them know how important the farm bill is for agriculture and specifically how important crop insurance is. Please, write, email or call your representative and senators and tell them how this policy affects you. There will also be opportunities for us to add input at meetings and town halls, be sure you attend any and all that you can.
Remember we are less than 2 percent of the population and as the other 98 percent gets farther removed from farms and ranches, they do not understand the importance of the farm bill. In this volatile economy and the long-term drought many of us have suffered through, it is just as critical as it ever has been to make our heard. If we do not advocate for ourselves, no one else will. Watch your emails and texts for alerts from Kansas Farm Bureau and, please, respond when asked. We are in the beginning stages of discussions and hopefully we can have a say in building a better farm bill.

 

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