As the U.S. Senate prepares to approve a new farm bill this week, supporters and critics are still weighing in on key provisions in the 949-page package. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, understands the difficult dynamics involved with gaining approval of complex food and farm legislation, having served as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in 1996 when "Freedom to Farm" was adopted and as ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee when deliberations first started on the present bill in 2011. Even though he is pleased with changes made to enhance crop insurance, Roberts explains why he continues to have long-standing concerns about the commodity title and is likely to vote against the Agricultural Act of 2014 this week.
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.
This week’s Open Mic guest is John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association. The nation’s corn milling industry is seeing tremendous demand for its products, but like others in the ag industry faces serious supply chain issues. Bode says some mills have been forced to temporarily shut down due to transportation issues. Corn refiners have a huge stake in global trade and as well the acceptance of technology farmers use to satisfy industry demand. Bode has high hopes for the bio-economy and looks forward to offering a new chapter to the corn refining industry’s sustainability story.