Summer is just about over, and Labor Day on the horizon signals that harvest is near. That means, it’s time to go to work.
Farmers have been battling the weather and other curveballs all summer long to cultivate their crops, but it’s not just the pending harvest that has them concerned right now. They’re watching Washington, DC, too, as lawmakers return to finish some pretty important Farm Bill business.
And when Congress returns to the nation’s capital, they’ll be greeted with a welcome-back letter signed by more than 150 farm groups, bankers, agribusinesses and conservation supporters, which reads in part:
Americans must have a five-year farm bill ahead of the September 30 expiration of the Agricultural Act of 2014. We urge you to quickly reconcile the bills’ differences and pass a conference report so that it can be enacted into law.
As you well know, the farm and rural economy is under significant financial stress. Net farm income has been cut in half since the 2014 Farm Bill. Farmers and ranchers and the rural communities and agribusinesses that depend on agricultural production need a strong and predictable safety net that includes important risk management tools such as crop insurance to weather these difficult economic times. They cannot afford a short-term extension.
A timely conclusion to the Farm Bill is particularly important considering some of the dour news that surfaced while legislators were away. For example:
- Prices for S. farm exports hit a six-year low, falling more than 5% last month alone.
- Commodity futures prices fell further following a bearish government report on supply and demand conditions.
- Turkey escalated its trade war with rural America by increasing tariffs on a range of products, including rice. China said it’s prepared to escalate things as well on a host of food products.
- Foreign subsidies pushed global sugar stocks to near record levels, sinking prices well below production costs.
- Trial lawyers set their sights on the country’s breadbasket, targeting everything from hog producers to farm chemicals.
These are big-time problems with big-time implications, and the resulting economic pain isn’t simply going to fix itself. Farmers need Washington to work.
Time to roll up the sleeves and conclude the Farm Bill conference.