Tag Archives: Farm Bill

Lincoln, NE – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) announced today that, due to severe weather conditions, the Farm Bill review session scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, February 20, at the Elkhorn Natural Resources District Conference Room in Norfolk has been postponed. Congressman Fortenberry is hoping to reschedule the Farm Bill review session shortly.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Congressman Fortenberry’s office at (402) 438-1598.

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry is the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies and is sponsor of the Rural Health Insurance Act, among other ag-related initiatives.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey announced that USDA is hosting a listening session for initial input on the 2018 Farm Bill. USDA is seeking public input on the changes to existing programs implemented by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency. Each agency will take into account stakeholder input when making discretionary decisions on program implementation.

“The 2018 Farm Bill is intended to provide support, certainty and stability to our Nation’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards by enhancing farm support programs, improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs, and promoting and supporting voluntary conservation,” said Under Secretary Northey. “We are seeking input from stakeholders on how USDA can streamline and improve program delivery while also enhancing customer service.”

The listening session will be held Feb. 26, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. in the Jefferson Auditorium in the South Building located at 14th Street and Independence Ave. S.W. in Washington, D.C.

The listening session is open to the public. Participants must register at farmers.gov/farmbill by February 22, 2019, to attend the listening session and are encouraged to provide written comments prior to the listening session. For those orally presenting comments at the listening session, written comments are encouraged to be submitted to regulations.gov by February 22, 2019.  Additional written comments will be accepted through March 1, 2019. Comments received will be publicly available on www.regulations.gov.

“Truly this is a Farm Bill that improves farm safety net programs, protects federal crop insurance, and preserves strong rural development and research initiatives. At USDA we are eager to hear from our stakeholders on policy recommendations, so we can start working on implementing these important Farm Bill provisions,” said Northey

For more information on the listening session visit  farmers.gov/farmbill.

The partial government shutdown—soon to enter its fifth week—is causing harm and exacerbating issues already facing American family farmers and ranchers as they look to sell their crops, acquire financing and prepare for the coming year. As such, the National Farmers Union (NFU) Board of Directors today adopted a resolution calling for an immediate reopening of the federal government.

“Our nation’s family farmers and ranchers are facing a financial crisis,” said the NFU Board. “Net farm income declined nearly 50 percent since 2013, and a majority of farms—farms of all sizes—have been operating in the red over the past several years. President Donald Trump initiated and escalated trade wars with China and much of the rest of the world, further depressing commodity prices and damaging America’s reputation as a reliable trading partner. The government shutdown is making these matters worse.”

The NFU Board highlighted a host of issues facing Farmers Union members because of the shuttering of federal agency doors, particularly those in their communities.

“The Market Facilitation Program (MFP), designed to aid farmers through the administration’s trade wars, is frozen due to FSA office closures,” said the NFU Board. “This stems needed cash flow for farmers gearing up for the coming year. These closures also limit farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to access federally backed operating loans and microloans, and process payments that are tied to FSA loans.”

“Additionally, information, data, and reporting services provided by USDA have been discontinued, making it more difficult for producers to make informed planting and selling decisions,” it continued. “Important agricultural research efforts are being delayed or halted, and some have been lost.”

The NFU Board noted that the shutdown is also significantly delaying implementation of both the 2018 Farm Bill and summertime sales of E15.

“Farm bill programs and updates, signed into law just a day before the shutdown, are very important to family farmers and ranchers of all sizes and operation types,” said the NFU Board. “The E15 waiver is desperately needed this summer to cut into significant oversupply of corn. Its implementation will have important gains for the entire farm economy.”

“American family farmers and ranchers rely on these operations to support their livelihoods and ensure food security for the country. It is imperative that the President and Congress fund the federal government immediately,” it concluded.

Coming off one of the worst years that we’ve ever had, knowing that the farm bill had been passed by the end of December was a relief that we weren’t expecting. Just before Christmas, we were still in the process of harvest, for a crop that we weren’t sure was worth the trip up and down the field. Dealing with natural disasters interfering with our progress is one thing – it’s another when it’s man-made interruptions that also impact our family farms.

What do I see as promising in the new farm bill? The opportunities for growth, trade and individualization within our farming businesses. I have four boys who are growing up before my eyes. They each have their own personalities, hopes, dreams and ideas about what their future may look like and now I can actually see some of that taking shape. I see potential and opportunity. Hemp? Hops? Barley? Vegetables? Some of the ideas that they have now look like they could become realities – with the ability to insure some of those crops that weren’t insurable before.

My community is excited for the potential of being able to amp up some of our local markets. We have a neighbor who raises hydroponic lettuce. For rural North Dakota, that’s huge. We can have local lettuce year-round. It’s an opportunity that, if replicated, can open many doors. But that can’t be done without support.

After the year we had in 2018, it’s difficult to want to encourage my children to continue the farming legacy we have worked generations to build. The hard work and long hours are difficult to justify when you miss out on big moments and have to defend your way of life to those who barely appreciate what you do, let alone understand it. And yet, the passing of this farm bill – following a year of perfect storms, during which our farms were hit from all sides by bad weather, tariffs, trade uncertainty, regulations, volatile markets and declining prices – gave me a glimmer of hope. Two sides of a very different coin were able to come together and agree that agriculture – and food – was important enough to not play games any longer. Perhaps that’s the lesson for all of us. Our crops will be eligible for insurance. In fact, more crops than ever before will be eligible for insurance. If we have another year like 2018, it will be a major determining factor in whether or not our family is able to continue farming for another year.

In a perfect world, my farm would not need a farm bill. In a perfect world, the markets would be open, prices would be fair and responsive to conditions and my day-to-day activities would consist of focusing on the crops that we love to raise. But if there is one thing that farming and ranching has taught me – it’s that a perfect world doesn’t exist. We have to play the hand we’re dealt and make the best of what we have. We also plan for a better tomorrow and do whatever we can to make sure that the next generation understands the importance of the lessons we have learned and that science and nature can work in harmony.

We do not look to the farm bill as an answer to the problems facing agriculture. Yet, with so many outside interferences that interrupt our day-to-day activities, there needs to be something in place that allows us a chance to be successful when we are good stewards of the land…and allows us to fail when we are not. I hope to one day look back on our farm and be able to see the future we have built taking shape. And for the first time in a long time, I can actually see that future. For that, I am thankful.