Farmers from around the country put on business suits and headed to the Capitol lawn Wednesday morning, united with nutrition, energy and conservation advocates in a clear message: pass a farm bill, now.
The hundreds-strong rally was supported by more than 90 groups and a dozen Members of Congress.
House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.); Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich); Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.); and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) addressed the crowd, urging phone calls to House Members and movement on the part of House Leadership.
Ten farm leaders also spoke, including NAWG First Vice President Bing Von Bergen, who farms wheat and barley in Montana, as well as representatives of 25x’25, the Alliance to End Hunger, the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Farmland Trust, the National Association of Conservation Districts, the National Consumers League and trade associations for producers of soybeans, corn, milk and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Von Bergen spoke on trade policies, which are vital to the wheat industry.
“Each year, we export about half of the total wheat crop produced in this country. Eighty percent of wheat from my home state goes overseas,” he said.
“To me, trade means money in farmers’ pockets, growth in our economy and doing my part to feed hungry people around the world.”
Other advocate representatives spoke on the importance of farm bill policies to providing growers a safety net, feeding hungry Americans and conserving U.S. lands, as well as the certainty a long-term farm bill provides to the ag sector, which supports 1 in 12 American jobs.
The rally is part of the larger Farm Bill Now effort launched in August at www.farmbillnow.com. The call to action there now has nearly 90 signatory groups, with an additional 1570 individuals signing a petition to support for the statement.
Quick approval of a new farm bill is essential to farmers and the larger economy. Wheat farmers are already planting next year’s crop without a clear understating of how farm policy will affect their businesses when harvest arrives.
Ten farmers from NAWG state associations in Washington, Montana and Idaho traveled to D.C. to attend the rally and farm bill-related Hill visits.
“We were happy to be able to come out to D.C. this week to inject a little bit of reality into the political debate around the farm bill,” said Joe Anderson, a wheat and dry bean farmer from Genesee, Idaho, and the president of the Idaho Grain Producers Association.
“We’ve been home doing our jobs, and we expect Congress to do theirs.”
For more about the rally Wednesday and the Farm Bill Now effort, visit www.farmbillnow.com.