As the blossoms fall from the cherry trees, farm groups head for Washington to state their case for the 2012 Farm Bill. The National Farmers Union is on Capitol Hill this week as 75 of its members meet with the offices of more than 150 members of Congress and their staffs to discuss Farmers Union priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill.
For this group, the key policy idea to promote is the Market-Driven Inventory System, designed to help during a long-term market collapse, the group says. MDIS uses a system of farmer-owned commodity inventories, loan rates and other policy tool to help moderate "both extremely low and extremely high commodity prices," the group says.
Adds Roger Johnson, NFU president: "The most valuable thing that our members can do is talk to their members of Congress to share their stories and describe the challenges they face on a daily basis. With the farm bill being written this year, this is an important opportunity for family farmers and ranchers to ensure their voices are heard. Congress must understand that a safety net needs to be designed and implemented that focuses on family farmers and provides assistance during difficult times, when markets collapse and when disaster strikes.”
The group is also going to advocate for strong energy and livestock programs. And like many groups, NFU wants the farm bill completed in 2012 rather than an extension to 2013.
“With agriculture programs facing tremendous budgetary pressure, it is critical that we come up with new ways to save money without sacrificing the safety net on which so many family farmers and ranchers rely,” said Johnson.
The group points to a University of Tennessee study that showed if MDIS were in place form 1998 through 2010, federal spending on farm programs would have decreased by $95 billion while net farm income would have remained unchanged.