Got dairy? Farm bill watchers are expressing optimism that a new 'deal' can be reached on dairy, but as always, the devil is in the details. Fresh off Capitol Hill Friday night - after another day of discussions about the dairy title - Agri-Pulse interviewed Jim Mulhern, the new President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. Although no formal agreement has been reached, Mulhern - who first started working on the hill in 1983 and has held numerous positions in the dairy industry - emphasizes that the conflict over dairy programs will not prevent the 2014 Farm, Food and Jobs Act from being brought to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. He expresses his desire to "call the bluff" of the Speaker of the House but realizes that political pressure on the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee won't allow that option. Mulhern also addresses "post farm bill" goals for immigration reform and fair and equitable labeling of U.S. dairy products in trade agreements with the European Union.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Michael Crowder, president of the National Association of Conservation Districts. For more than 75 years, farmers and ranchers have partnered with NACD to employ soil conservation practices to preserve natural resources and improve the productivity of their land. Today, conservation is seen as a means to mitigate the impact of climate change and help farmers sustainably produce food, fiber and fuel for the nation. Crowder says NACD is pleased to see additional funds directed toward existing conservation programs that are currently underfunded. He says additional funds for technical assistance will help producers engage more land in conservation stewardship practices. NACD has developed 2023 farm bill principles that they will continue to refine as work increases toward approving a new farm bill next year.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Nicole Berg, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers. The nation’s wheat farmers have two primary objectives for new farm programs including defending risk protection programs and a boost in baseline spending. The Washington wheat grower says the $5.50 reference price is below the cost of production for most wheat growers and must be addressed in the 2023 farm bill. Berg says wheat farmers share concerns about the availability of inputs for the new crop year and question the EPA’s increased scrutiny of important crop protection products critical to the outcome of environmental and production goals. Wheat growers question the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s endorsement of breaching dams on the Snake River.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Adam Putnam, CEO of Ducks Unlimited. The sportsman community has played an influential role in securing farm policy on Capitol Hill and continues to engage. As a former ag commissioner in his home state of Florida and 10 year member of Congress, Putnam understands and supports voluntary conservation programs that enhance the ability for farmers and ranchers to pursue environmental stewardship and productivity while employing science-based tools. Ducks Unlimited supports farming practices across North America and says their sustainability goals align well with both farmers and businesses looking to improve their environmental track record and address climate change.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Chris Edgington, president of the National Corn Growers Association. Several hundred corn grower leaders were in Washington recently to discuss policy and meet with members of Congress. Edgington says ethanol and the Next Generation Fuels Act are at the top of the agenda for him and other farmers. Farmers are also concerned about the availability of inputs for the next year’s crop as well as regulatory actions that would limit the use of crop protection products or restrict land use. Edgington says corn growers are participating in farm bill listening sessions and are keenly concerned with potential changes to Title 1 programs and crop insurance.
This week’s Open Mic guest is Steve Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association. Over 200 soy farmers and industry leaders were in Washington for their summer board meeting and visits with leaders on Capitol Hill. The 2023 farm bill was at the top of issues that included land and water regulations, crop protection products, the rail industry and labor issues. Censky says soy leaders may have real concerns about any shift in farm programs to margin coverage instead of revenue or reference prices.