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Governors send letter regarding Farm Bill

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The National Governors Association has sent a letter to the Agriculture Committee leaders in the House and Senate, expressing their wishes for the Farm Bill. The National Governors Association assembled a task force to compile the key priorities for their states and believe their priorities highlight the important role farm bill programs play in strengthening communities. 

The last edition of the Farm Bill was in 2018. Since then, the governors feel that much has changed in the agricultural markets and the overall economy since then. Specifically, inflation has made it harder for farmers, ranchers, and producers to maintain product coverage while keeping their goods at an affordable and competitive price. 

Additionally, inflation has also reduced the buying power of consumers and those receiving good assistance. At the same time, global markets have changed, and agriculture employers face workforce shortages and challenges. Taken together, the governors feel that this will only be exacerbated as more farmers and ranchers retire in the coming years.

The key priorities include commodities, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture, and crop insurance. The governors are also interested in mental health animal diseases and preparedness, urban farming, and preventing state-level laws from impeding agriculture production. 

The governors say they will continue to support Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage programs, with reference price adjustments to reflect changes in crop process. They also support disaster assistance programs that provide more certainty and modification to the Dairy Margin Coverage Program. The letter also calls for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding to be maintained, and benefits expanded to all 55 states and territories the AGA represents. It also pushes for greater administrative flexibility and a more streamlined process.

“The next iteration of the farm bill is an opportunity for Congress to reinforce its support for the states, territories, and communities we represent, specifically rural and urban communities, farmers, ranchers, and those in need of food assistance,” the governors’ letter says. “Doing so will further bolster the more than 23 million jobs supported by the U.S. food and agriculture sector, which provide nearly $1 trillion in wages annually to American households.”

Specifically related to research, the letter states that funding should be increased for agriculture research and extension programs that focus on increasing the safety and security of the food system, fighting pests and crop disease, and safeguarding our natural resources. The governors feel that continuing to fund these programs will ensure that the United States maintains a competitive edge in the global agriculture sector. 

Read the list of priorities here