Ohio Farmers Share Their Views on the Farm Bill

The preservation of crop insurance, the expansion of commercial market development programs as well as the desire for more partnerships between farmers, food banks and government were all discussed at the fifth hearing on the proposed Farm Law hosted by the House Agriculture Committee of Terra State Community College in Fremont, Ohio. Monday, August 22.

General Agricultural Commodity and Risk Management Subcommittee Chair Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., was joined by Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, to hear from approximately 230 members of the public attending in person or via streaming on line. Audience members discussed topics such as crop insurance, conservation, specialty crops, local and regional food systems, as well as research, extension and education.

“Every five years we have the opportunity to renew the programs that our family farmers rely on through the Farm Bill,” says Bustos. “What’s most important during this process is hearing directly from people across the country about what’s working and what can be improved. On the third leg of my listening tour, it was wonderful to join Congresswoman Kaptur right here in Ohio to listen to local farmers and agriculture stakeholders. Their input is essential as we set the stage for a 2023 Farm Bill that best serves every part of our farming community.

There are currently over 77,000 operating farms in Ohio covering nearly 14 million acres. Food and agriculture is the largest contributor to Ohio’s economy at $124 billion, and agriculture helps provide about one in eight jobs in the state. Ohio is one of the top egg producing states in the country.

“Growing up in a small family grocery store, our neighbors made what we sold. I know firsthand the courage and determination that define rural communities in Ohio, and on the House Agriculture Committee, I am working to deliver them. Taking what we heard here in Fremont, Ohio, I look forward to working with Rep. Cheri Bustos on a farm bill that invests in farmers and agricultural producers who make and grow what makes and grows America,” says Kaptur.

Paul Herringshaw, who operates a farm near Bowling Green and on behalf of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, says the top priority for Ohio corn and wheat growers is to protect crop insurance. He says attacks on the federal crop insurance program have come from left and right, but it remains an important tool to mitigate risk. He says it’s important to find ways to improve the efficiency and cost of the program.

Tyler Dravis, a farmer from Custer, Ohio, and also a board member of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, reiterated the importance of crop insurance and any proposed cuts would be “very detrimental” in his ability to use important risk mitigation tool. . In Ohio, 1.5 million acres of cropland could not be planted in 2019 and crop insurance cuts could have limited the risk protection needed for many farmers, including himself. same.

Meanwhile, Eli Dean, who farms 750 acres of certified organic crops in Sandusky County, says crop insurance works very well for his farm and provides individualized support and compensation quickly after a disaster, as well as give confidence to the banker each spring when he looks at operating loans. However, he suggests that adjustments to crop insurance be made to rebalance crop insurance with other payment limitations to limit support for large farms so that “the largest farms do not continue to expand and small and medium-sized businesses can’t compete,” Dean said.

Angela Huffman, co-founder of Farm Action, urged farm law leaders to shift government agricultural support systems from producing high-calorie, low-nutrient processed foods and processed foods to animals to nutrient rich foods recommended by our federal government. dietary guidelines. Additionally, she said requirements should be tied to crop insurance and farm support to compel farmers to engage in conservation practices.

Joe Logan, who farms in northeast Ohio and on behalf of the Ohio Farmers Union, urged lawmakers to reward farmers for building soil health and improving agriculture resilience, which would also save money on crop insurance payments.

Vicki Askins, on behalf of the Ohio Farmers Union and Lake Erie Advocates, says there shouldn’t be new farm bill funds used for methane manure digesters, calling them “a magnet for more than industrial farms”. She says the high costs of $4-7 million to install a digester should be borne by the private sector, not the federal government, because it typically takes 3,000 dairy cows to make it viable, leaving small operations unable to to use the funds and encouraging bigger operations to become bigger. She says methane emissions have increased 15% since the Obama administration began funding methane digesters.

Commercial promotion financing

Herringshaw and Dravis encouraged continued support for trade promotion programs authorized under the Farm Act – the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development – which combine federal funds with private funds and organizations on field. Dravis says the programs are essential to developing, creating and sustaining foreign markets. However, the level of funding has remained the same since 2006. He suggested doubling current levels and the MAP should be funded at $400 million per year and $69 million per year.

The WFP has stagnated at a level of $200 million since 2006. Since then, various external and internal factors have reduced the actual amount of WFP funding relied on by almost 100 other professional agricultural associations. These include sequestration (federal funding cuts), administration (USDA/FAS uses a percentage of MAP funding to administer the program), and inflation.

Additionally, the number of participants in the MAP program continues to grow, leaving less money for more participants. The end result is that the $200 million in real dollar funding approximates $130 million once indexed to inflation and taking other factors into account.

Sugar policy reform

Kirk Vashaw, president of Spangler Candy, based in Bryan, Ohio, and maker of the popular Dum-Dum cups and America’s only candy cane maker, says the farm bill should also support the manufacturing sector that buys American agricultural products.

He says current sugar policy, coupled with trade agreements between Mexico and Canada, prevents competitive buying of sugar, as well as limited domestic production of sugar beets. He says there are 200 jobs in Mexico that he would like to move to Ohio if the sugar policy changes.

“We ran out of sugar in April because of the supply chain,” he says. And the government-run sugar program couldn’t respond, he says. “Watch this program and see what we can do to support American jobs.”

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