National Farmers Union Board urges significant improvements to House Farm Bill
April 24, 2018
National Farmers Union (NFU) Board of Directors has unanimously passed a resolution in opposition to the current version of the 2018 Farm Bill as passed by the House Agriculture Committee last week. The Board called on House members to make significant improvements to the Farm Bill before passing the legislation.
“The House Farm Bill (H.R. 2), as currently written, lacks the improvements needed to help farmers cope with continued low prices,” said the Board. “The bill fails to provide farmers with the tools they need to be the best possible stewards of our natural resources, and it reverses progress toward expanding access to local, regional, and specialty markets. Furthermore, it makes unnecessary cuts to programs that feed hungry Americans. National Farmers Union’s Board of Directors, on behalf of nearly 200,000 family farmers, ranchers, and rural members, opposes H.R. 2 in its current form.”
The NFU Board noted that weak commodity prices, large surpluses, and an increasingly consolidated marketplace prevent farmers from receiving fair market prices for their production. In 2018, net farm income is projected to be less than half of what it was in 2013.
“As a result, family farmers are forced to rely on price supports to sustain their operations,” the Board said. “Unfortunately, the farm safety net does not reflect the current state of the farm economy.”
NFU’s Board added that disputes with international trading partners are creating additional challenges for farm profitability that require a long-term solution. “The Farm Bill should include additional funding to offset the potential damages to American family farmers and ranchers,” it said.
The Board resolution called on House members to make the following improvements to the Farm Bill:
~ Increase PLC reference prices to improve the farm safety net and offset potential trade retaliation;
~ Strengthen payment limitations and actively engaged requirements for Title I programs;
~ Provide dairy farmers with enhanced price supports and a mechanism that manages our nation’s milk inventories to meet market demand;
~ Ensure credit availability by increasing FSA’s overall loan portfolio;
~ Maintain funding levels for consumer benefits under nutrition programs;
~ Provide an incentive-based working lands conservation program that promotes improved stewardship;
~ Restore mandatory funding for energy programs that promote development of the bioeconomy in rural areas; and
~ Reinstate mandatory funding for programs that improve access to local, regional, and specialty markets.