NCFC strongly supports federal policies provided by the farm bill which promote an economically healthy and competitive U.S. agriculture sector. Farm bill programs serve a variety of purposes including: meeting the food, fuel and fiber needs of consumers worldwide, strengthening farm income, improving our balance of trade, promoting rural development and creating needed jobs here at home.
American farmers and ranchers and the co-ops they own must have the certainty of a comprehensive five-year farm bill that provides the flexibility, resources, tools and technologies needed to meet the challenges of a growing world. Farm bills need to be forward looking, ensuring that we plan for today and tomorrow.
Of primary importance, the farm bill must preserve the long-standing rural-urban alliance that reinforces the fact that food security, investment in rural America and a safety net for those in need are priorities benefitting the entire nation. Key to our success will be emphasizing those issues that unite producers, regardless of commodity or location, rather than those issues that divide agriculture. This begins with preserving the productive capacity of our farms by supporting a meaningful and equitable safety net for producers across all commodities. This also includes preserving a strong crop insurance program that is not arbitrarily constrained by payment limits or means testing of those who can participate.
Farm bill programs serve a variety of purposes including: meeting the food, fuel and fiber needs of consumers worldwide, strengthening farm income, improving our balance of trade, promoting rural development and creating needed jobs here at home. In fact, there are over 21 million jobs tied directly to the U.S. agriculture industry.
NCFC strongly recommends that the next farm bill strengthen the nation’s farmer cooperatives by:
- Promoting the continued viability of the Capper-Volstead Act and other cooperative statutes;
- Promoting farmer cooperatives and their abilities to enhance competition in the agricultural marketplace by acting as bargaining agents for their members’ products; providing market intelligence and pricing information; providing competitively priced farming supplies; and vertically integrating their members’ production and processing.
- Supporting the cooperative Farm Credit System;
- Ensuring farmer cooperatives remain eligible under federal programs for the benefit of their farmer members.
- Expanding U.S. agriculture exports and global competitiveness, including through substantially improved access to foreign markets.
- Supporting of a responsive safety net, together with adequate funding, that incorporates improved, comprehensive risk management tools and programs for producers and their cooperatives.
- Supporting the continuation of voluntary, locally-led programs which recognize the uniqueness of the agricultural community and which operate under the parameters of the nationally determined general priorities.
- Ensuring our farmers and ranchers have access to labor so they can continue to harvest our crops and care for livestock here in the United States.
- Supporting responsible and cost-effective regulatory policies that provide a safe and productive work environment while promoting our economic competitiveness.
Additionally, trade is vital to the continued prosperity of co-ops and their farmer and rancher members—with over 95 percent of the world’s population living outside of the United States, our agricultural producers need foreign markets to grow demand and the programs that serve as catalysts to increased market access.
As was the case with the 2014 farm bill, the upcoming farm bill debate will be presented with the challenge to be fiscally responsible. Farmer co-ops are mindful of this challenge. At the same time, it is imperative that Congress recognize the continued importance of farm bill policies that promote a healthy and competitive U.S. agricultural sector. That recognition starts with providing adequate resources to support policies in the next farm bill that will preserve the productive capacity of our farms in times of poor production or prices.
Finally, recent estimates by the United Nations show world population growing to 9.7 billion people by 2050; a vibrant, productive U.S. agricultural economy will be key to feeding and clothing a growing world. The next farm bill must be written to ensure that American farmers and ranchers have the tools and technologies needed to meet this challenge.