FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2018
Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
WASHINGTON – On behalf of its nearly 200,000 farm family members, the National Farmers Union (NFU) Board of Directors today unanimously approved a resolution in support of the Senate’s bipartisan efforts to advance a farm bill. The NFU Board urged the Senate to quickly pass the legislation.
“The goal of any farm bill should be to provide a strong safety net for our nation’s family farmers and ranchers, improve farm sustainability, and ensure access to fair and diverse markets,” said the Board. “Given persistent and ongoing economic challenges in the farm economy, Congress must pass a farm bill that provides strong support in the best interests of family farms, rural communities and consumers. National Farmers Union’s Board of Directors commends the bipartisan efforts of the Senate Agriculture Committee to advance the farm bill.”
The NFU Board noted that weak commodity prices, large surpluses, and an increasingly consolidated marketplace prevent farmers from receiving a fair price from the market, illustrating the need for a strong farm safety net.
“Net farm income is less than half of what it was in 2013, leaving farmers to rely on price supports to sustain their operations,” said the NFU Board. “While the Senate farm bill does not include much needed increases to PLC reference prices, the bill makes important investments to support dairy farmers. The bill also modernizes FSA loan limits, while maintaining broad access to operating and ownership loans.”
NFU’s Board touted the Senate’s work to improve farm sustainability, as natural resource concerns like water quality, aquifer recharge, carbon sequestration and soil health are critical to address for the viability of family farms, rural communities and future generations.
“The Senate farm bill maintains overall funding for conservation programs that improve the long-term sustainability of family farms and ranches,” said the NFU Board. “While the legislation reduces funding for EQIP and CSP, it includes many reforms to improve access to working lands conservation programs and enhance their environmental benefits. The bill also maintains mandatory funding for programs that promote the development of the bioeconomy in rural areas.”
The NFU Board also applauded the Senate farm bill’s advancement of diverse market opportunities for farmers and ranchers. The bill increases funding to promote the development of local, regional, and value-added agricultural markets. It also maintains funding for the Organic Certification Cost-Share program and increases funding for organic research. “Access to new markets provides farmers and ranchers opportunities to diversify their operations, improve their profitability, and meet growing consumer demands,” the Board said.
The Board encouraged the Senate to build on these improvements by adopting changes that improve the farm safety net, promote farm sustainability, and ensure access to fair and diverse markets. “We specifically urge the adoption of farm program payment limits that are targeted to those who are actively engaged in family farming operations,” they said.
“Finally, we urge the Senate to promptly pass this critical piece of legislation.”
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.