Letter to the editor: Farmers need strong crop insurance, disaster programsNorth Dakota relies on agriculture to maintain a thriving economy. Our state is the No. 1 producer of 14 different agricultural commodities in the nation and employs one in every five North Dakotans in the agricultural field. It is clear that a healthy bottom line for North Dakota is directly tied to agriculture.
By: Elwood “Woody” Barth, Flasher, N.D., The Jamestown Sun
North Dakota relies on agriculture to maintain a thriving economy. Our state is the No. 1 producer of 14 different agricultural commodities in the nation and employs one in every five North Dakotans in the agricultural field. It is clear that a healthy bottom line for North Dakota is directly tied to agriculture.
However, world market volatility and national politics surrounding the budget deficit present significant challenges in building agricultural policy. Congress is now faced with drafting a new farm bill that sets national policy on agriculture, nutrition and conservation. North Dakota Farmers Union is advocating for a farm bill that provides a strong safety net for producers when commodity prices drop and/or input costs rapidly rise.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry recently passed a proposed bill by a vote of 16-5. Leaders of the ag committee agreed to cut $23 billion in funding to respond to our national deficit, maintain a safety net, and address nutrition and conservation needs.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has proposed another budget that slashes ag programs by $180 billion, including $31 billion to commodity and crop insurance programs, $133.5 billion to nutrition assistance and $16 billion in conservation. The Ryan budget proposal would sacrifice a market-based safety net for producers and gouge not only the agriculture community, but also nutrition programs across the country.
North Dakota Sens. Kent Conrad and John Hoeven worked together to pass the Senate Ag Committee budget. North Dakota Rep. Rick Berg has verbally supported this proposal but voted for the Ryan budget.
Like our senators from North Dakota, we must work in a bipartisan way to maintain a farm bill that will benefit our producers, consumers and rural communities. We support a comprehensive policy that will provide initiatives to maintain farming operations through strong crop insurance and disaster programs. We ask our elected leaders to advocate for North Dakota in this debate.
Elwood “Woody” Barth
(Barth is president of North Dakota Farmers Union)