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Letter to the editor: Farmers, ranchers need certainty with new farm bill

The success of agriculture has been synonymous with the prosperity of North Dakota. We’ve been blessed in recent years with high commodity prices, a booming energy industry and robust economy. Our farmers and ranchers have had the security of a strong farm bill, which has contributed to agriculture as our top industry. This fall, Congress has an important opportunity to create jobs and grow the economy by passing a long-term comprehensive food, farm and jobs bill. The farm bill impacts every American by providing a wide range of programs that strengthen North Dakota and our country.

The farm bill is crucial to maintaining a strong agriculture sector and an abundant food supply that benefits all Americans. Over the past two years, producers have faced a multitude of disasters — from drought, to flooding to blizzards. These events demonstrate how important the safety net is to keeping producers going strong. Under the 2008 farm bill, the Farm Service Agency was able to provide $759 million in disaster assistance to North Dakota’s producers.

North Dakota farmers are not only feeding the country, but also the world. A new farm bill would allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue export promotion efforts that have led to the best five-year period of agricultural trade in American history. The farm bill is also a job creation bill that would empower USDA to partner with our rural communities to expand and support new businesses. These investments to strengthen our infrastructure support our booming economy and private sector growth.

What’s more, the new legislation would make important investments in nutrition programs that provide critical assistance to our most vulnerable North Dakotans including children, seniors, people with disabilities and returning veterans. It would enable USDA to continue our work with our producers and landowners to conserve the soil and water. It would also undertake new strategies to improve agricultural research and ensure a safe food supply.

These efforts won’t happen without the passage of a new farm bill. Now is the time to give America’s farmers and ranchers the certainty they need about the next five years of U.S. farm policy, while investing in the rural communities that stand at the heart of our values. The farm bill has stood as a model of bipartisan consensus for decades, and it is high time for compromise to move a new farm bill forward

(Schneider is the state director for USDA Rural Development, and Krauter is the executive director for USDA Farm Service.)