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28 January 2018 - We Need a Farm Bill on Time

During my career as a radio/TV/agricultural journalist I have covered the writing of several Farm Bills. Most of them had one thing in common - Congress was seldom able to finish the Farm Bill on time, by the deadline; so it generally went beyond the end of the current Farm Bill. That was dangerous because without a Farm Bill we would have to work under rules established in 1948.

The last Secretary of Agriculture I remember, who traveled to make a concerted effort to know what farmers and ranchers needed and wanted was Mike Johanns. Now, we have Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue and he has probably done more traveling than Secretary Johanns or any other Secretary during his first year in office.

Earlier this month, he held a Town Hall Meeting in Pennsylvania to share with farmers what he had learned from producers in the thirty states he had visited since becoming Secretary, listening to the people of American agriculture about what is working and what is not working.

The Secretary said “…the conversations we had and the people we came across helped us craft U.S.D.A.’s Farm Bill and legislative principles for 2018. These principles will be used as a road map. They are our way of letting Congress know what we have heard from the hardworking men and women of American agriculture. While we understand it is the job of Congress to write the Farm Bill, U.S.D.A. will be right there providing whatever advice or information Congress may request or require.”

He had a long list, but let me share some of the points that caught my eye:
- provide a farm safety net that helps American farmers survive times of economic stress.
- promote a variety of innovative economic crop insurance products and changes, enabling farmers to make sound production decisions.
- Encourage entry into farming through increased access to land and capital for young, beginning, veteran and under-represented farmers.
-ensure that voluntary conservation programs balance farm productivity with conservation benefits that preserve and enhance the environment.

There were other points the Secretary made but l come back to the point that I made at the beginning - we need the Farm Bill and we need it on time by the end of the year.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.