The Farm Bill and Why It Matters to Everyone

Posted on Oct 1, 2018

For those involved in the agriculture industry, either by way of their farming operations or from their agri-businesses, you know the importance of the Farm Bill and how it affects you on a daily basis.

It is the single most important piece of legislation connected to agriculture and our rural communities, and while many people who are far removed from the farm believe the bill doesn’t play a part in their lives, the fact is, this legislation affects everyone.

True, many of its provisions are indeed directly related to the ag industry including guidance on crop insurance, dairy initiatives and commodity program implementation, to name a few. But the bill also contains provisions for programs related to conservation, energy, nutrition and rural development. I don’t know of anyone, anywhere that wouldn’t be affected by the Farm Bill in some way, whether they know it or not.

I’m not sure a lot of people realize it, but the Farm Bill is merely an amended form of a permanent law that passed in 1949. Every five years Congress is tasked with updating that piece of legislation. However, if a pending reauthorization of the bill is not passed on time, or if an extension is not passed, ag policy would revert to the regulations set forth by that original bill.

Such a setback could prove to be detrimental to certain sectors of the farm economy in the event this were to happen. Committee conferees have been busy trying to reconcile the differences in the House and Senate versions of the bills that have already been passed in their respective chambers. But the deadline for passage has slipped by and lawmakers are on the clock. This reversion is set to happen at the end of the year if they are unable to come to terms on the legislation or an extension by then.

Realistically, I don’t expect that reversion to happen, but the possibility remains, especially if the general public, including many lawmakers, don’t become more informed about the bill, fully understanding its impact and supporting it.

In Kentucky, we have worked hard to provide the necessary information by way of a Farm Bill Working Group to assist in the process of moving forward on passage of the Farm Bill.

Our state commodity groups, agriculture organizations and ag-related government entities have spent a great deal of time, effort and energy to make this happen, as have many of our Congressional leaders who have stepped up to support the bill and see it through to fruition.

Our work has not been in vain, but we need stakeholders and lawmakers to give this important legislation the relevance it deserves in order to get passage guaranteed this year and give our farm families the certainty an effective Farm Bill provides. We are all stakeholders.

If we look at this legislation in no other way, it can be viewed as a food bill. It regulates the programs necessary to produce the food, fuel and fiber every citizen needs.

I urge the conference committee members and our entire delegation to take a long, hard look at how important the agriculture industry is to every one of us. Coming to an agreement now is vital, whether you farm or not; whether you live in the city or a rural community; or if you make the laws or just abide by them.

The Farm Bill affects every single person in this country. Food is our common denominator, and we need to have legislation in place that helps us produce that food supply, keeping our farm families in business. If we don’t, we could be faced with the realization of looking elsewhere to get all the necessary food we need.

And we never want to be in a position of having to shop outside our borders in order to eat.

 

Mark Haney, President
Kentucky Farm Bureau