One of the most important pieces of legislation when it comes to agriculture is currently being debated and created in Washington.
The farm bill is vital to the nearly 80,000 farms in Ohio supporting the state’s food and agriculture economy, to the tune of over $277 billion annually. The farm bill’s purpose is to protect that investment by keeping Ohio farm families sustainable in a multitude of ways, including risk management and conservation and maintaining the level of goods and services these farms provide to all Americans.
Risk management tools like federal crop insurance and commodity programs are critical and need to be maintained in the new farm bill. From unpredictable weather to unnerving markets, farmers understand the volatilities associated with growing the nation’s food supply, and it’s important that lawmakers do as well.
Conservation programs are equally important in helping farmers protect healthy soils and keep water clean. As more farmers seek to add even more acres to the Conservation Reserve Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, funding in the new farm bill will be required to meet the demand.
As essential as those items are to the farm bill, they only equal about 20% of the overall legislation. The other 80% is in the form of nutrition programs, mainly the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
In reality, this legislation should be titled the farm and food bill, because you can’t have one without the other. Getting that message to Congress, which consists of 48% of members who have never been a part of a farm bill process, will be of utmost importance. Ohio Farm Bureau will be working directly with our state’s congressional delegation in Washington throughout the development of this new farm bill, and I encourage you to do the same. As you do, let them know the significant role this bill plays in providing food security for everyone while supporting the sustainability of farmers and, in turn, the viability of our rural communities.
Adam Sharp is Ohio Farm Bureau executive vice president.