American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall announced AFBF’s priorities Thursday for the upcoming farm bill renewal. The priorities include maintaining farm bill program funding.
Duvall; “The farm bill funding is an investment in some of the most fundamental elements of a strong country, one being a strong food supply. The farm bill has a long tradition of inspiring lawmakers to rise above politics to achieve a common goal. We urge the 118th Congress, when it’s seated, to carryout and carry on that tradition.”
AFBF’s key priorities include keeping nutrition and farm programs together and supporting risk management tools. Duvall; “Another priority is to maintain a unified farm bill which keeps nutrition and farm programs together. Why is that so important? Because it makes perfect sense that one single bill supports the people who produce the food and supports the people who need assistance accessing nutritious food for their families. And federal crop insurance commodity programs help to balance the volatility that farmers face, which is important to ensure a stable food supply.”
Duvall says the challenge ahead will be to make sure every member of Congress understands the importance of the legislation. Duvall; “There’s a huge percentage of Congress that has not had this challenge in front of them and we need to make understand how important it is to all Americans, whether you’re in rural America, whether you farm or not, or whether you’re in urban America. And it’s not just about farming, it is about America and its national security.”
The next Congress could be rough for the 2023 farm bill as the American Farm Bureau takes a proactive strategy in laying out its priorities farm bill priorities.
Duvall sees a ‘heavy lift’ for the next farm bill. Duvall; “2023 may present a bigger challenge than ever, than we’ve ever seen. We have fewer members of Congress that represent rural districts, along with a huge class of new members coming to Congress…(2117) So, it’d be our job to inform them on how it could help their constituents, whether they’re in rural parts of the country or the urban parts of the country.”
With the AFBF chief stressing a unified “food and farm” bill, against past efforts by urban members to peel off nutrition programs, risking votes for farm safety net programs. AFB stressed those, amid disasters, the pandemic, soaring input costs and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
High on the list–commodity and conservation programs, and crop insurance. AFBF’s Andrew Walmsley on protecting crop insurance from means testing, premium cost share cuts and required production practices. Walmsley; “We think there’s concerns on adding too many additional requirements to Crop Insurance that could undermine the program.”
AFBF wants a lower cap on CRP acreage with more emphasis on working lands to meet global food needs, while setting rental rates to a percentage of average county rates. Walmsley; “The ’18 farm bill made some adjustments on the county rental rates, we supported that, USDA kind of worked around that in a fairly creative way, this last go-round. But, at the end of the day, when it comes to CRP, it definitely needs to stay targeted on those lands that are considered marginal.”
Walmsley says the latest NRCS numbers show about a quarter of CRP acreage is considered prime farm ground.
Other AFBF farm bill priorities: continuing PLC and ARC with annual reelection options, increasing Title I reference prices and loan rates, retaining Dairy Margin Coverage, and prioritizing EQIP. Trade, ag research and rural development, including biofuels, broadband and local market expansion are also high on AFB’s ’23 farm bill priorities list.
Farm Bureau delegates will consider and give final approval to the priorities during the 2023 Farm Bureau Convention, in Puerto Rico.