Ryan Buck, Published November 08 2013
Letter: Farmers want new farm billDuring remarks on the Senate floor, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar recalled a phone conservation she had with Greg Schwarz, one of my fellow Minnesota corn farmers, about the farm bill.
“Farmers are working around the clock on this year’s harvest,” Klobuchar recalled Schwarz telling her recently from his combine on his farm near Le Sueur. “If you don’t hear from us, it’s not because we don’t care; it’s because we have work to do.”
What was once a symbol of bipartisanship and legislation that connected farmers in rural America with consumers in the big city has devolved into yet another political mess in Washington. Farmers have been trying to get a farm bill passed for more than two years now, and have run into partisan roadblock after partisan roadblock at every turn.
Recently, however, there has been a renewed push to pass a farm bill. And just as farmers are doing the work necessary to finish this year’s harvest, it’s time for our elected leaders in Washington to do the same and finally get their jobs done by passing a farm bill.
It’s been more than two years since discussions on the next farm bill began. President Barack Obama himself even made passing a farm bill one of his top three priorities after the recent government shutdown ended.
As combines rolled throughout Minnesota fields last week, a House and Senate conference committee met to try to reconcile differences in their respective versions of the farm bill. Most of the debate will be about the nutrition title (food stamps) and how much or how little to cut from those programs.
Sure, the farm bill might not generate the same type of political fervor and cable news yelling matches issues like the budget or national debt do, but that doesn’t mean people – especially farmers – are indifferent about it.
Farmers have made clear how important passing a new farm bill is. The certainty created by having farm policy and legislation in place helps us plan for the next crop year and make investments in our farms that ensure their long-term viability.
A farm bill also helps improve on-farm conservation efforts, boosts renewable energy ventures, makes critical investments in rural areas and helps improve access for everyone to safe and healthy food grown by farmers.
While the farm bill process has dragged, farmers have kept farming. The partisan squabbling has worn some farmers down about the political process, but it hasn’t stopped them from growing the food, fiber and fuel that our world needs.
Now it’s time for Washington to come through and pass a long-overdue farm bill.
Schwarz was right. Farmers are busy farming this time of year. The phone calls and meetings with elected officials are not as frequent as they are during nonharvest season. Farmers have also repeated the same points about the importance of a farm bill for more than two years now.
The time for meetings and phone calls is over. Now it’s time to actually get this thing done. A new farm bill would be a great way to cap off this year’s harvest.
Buck is a corn and soybean farmer in Goodhue County and is president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.