Congress must counter a steep, four-year drop in commodity prices that has left farmers and ranchers in worse shape than any time since the farm depression of the 1980s, Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney told the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Haney’s testimony cited growing losses in farm country that increasingly threaten the livelihoods of millions of Americans.
“2017 and 2018 will be a critical period for farmers and ranchers,” Haney told the committee. “Farmers and ranchers are tightening their belts and paying very close attention to their individual financial situations. Simply put, they are in greater need of strong, secure safety net programs and risk management tools than has been the case for several years.”
To offset the effects of deteriorating farm and ranch conditions, Haney said, Congress should:
- Protect current farm bill spending.
- Maintain a unified farm bill that includes nutrition programs and farm programs together.
- Ensure any changes to current farm legislation be an amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 or the Agricultural Act of 1949.
- Prioritize top funding concerns — risk management tools, which include both federal crop insurance and Title I commodity programs.
- Ensure programs are compliant with World Trade Organization agreements.
Haney also urged Congress to maintain robust funding for conservation programs that encourage environmentally sensitive farming practices as well as the periodic withdrawal of land from active use.
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