NAU Country News

Farmers tell their story

As the 2018 Farm Bill debate plays out in Congress, farmers across the nation are getting in front of the camera to tell their stories with the hopes that lawmakers will understand just how important a strong farm policy is to rural America.

National Crop Insurance Services is the latest agricultural group to document the unique risks American farmers face, and their need for strong farm policies. Its video series, part of the Crop Insurance In My State campaign, kicked off recently with stories from Kentucky and Indiana.

The NCIS series comes on the heels of a similar and ongoing project, Faces of Sugar Policy, produced by the American Sugar Alliance.

Crop Insurance In My State

Jeff Coke is one of the farmers NCIS caught up with in Kentucky. He loves growing corn and soybean on his farm in Owensboro, Kentucky. His love of the land might sound strange to the folks in the big cities.

“We have a tie to the dirt that other people don’t understand,” he said. “You know, I like the smell of fresh dirt. Most people think that’s crazy. I like the smell of fresh cut hay. I like the smell of silage. Manure doesn’t even upset me. That’s the smell, when I was a kid, you always smelled in the spring time.”

Across the state line in Boonville, Indiana, Mike Heuring is expecting a decent harvest. While this harvest is looking up, it wasn’t too long ago that Heuring, who is also a crop insurance agent, faced a massive loss. The drought of 2012 remains the worst he can remember and likely the worst his family has experienced in at least three generations.

Without insurance, he says he would have had to sell land or equipment, or take out loans on property, to farm another year.

“I don’t know if it would have put me out of business, but it would have been 10 steps backwards,” he said. “It would have been really bad.”

Faces of Sugar Policy

ASA is documenting the stories of sugar farmers and producers in all of the nation’s sugarcane and sugarbeet growing states and in communities that have large refineries.

The series won accolades recently at the International Sweetener Symposium in Traverse City, where industry leaders and elected officials viewed a the stories.

Michigan farmer Peter Maxwell’s story was one that garnered applause from the crowd at the symposium.

“I’d really like Congress to understand that sugarbeets are a huge part of our life,” he says in the piece. “They’ve been a huge part of our farming operation. My vision for the future is harvesting sugarbeets with my children, with my sons.”

Harkirtan Singh, a power house operator for Domino Sugar in Yonkers, New York, had an equally powerful story that also generated applause at the symposium. He started as a laborer 30 years ago after leaving India for a better life in the United States.

He’s raised three children, put all of them through college and also put his wife through nursing school. One of his daughters is bound for medical school.

“It makes me feel proud,” he says. “Really proud of my children and my wife. And I really appreciate this job, and where I work and the way this company pay me. And I able to support them.”

Look for more great stories about farming and the agriculture economy from NCIS and ASA soon.

The NCIS series is expected to continue through 2018 and next year. ASA also continues to document the stories of American sugar farmers and producers.

Source: Farm Policy Facts.

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