FRANKFORT, Ky. (7/19/13) – The following is a letter to the editor submitted to SurfKY News from Congressman Ed Whitfield.
Farming is a way of life in western Kentucky. From corn and soybeans to hay and livestock, Kentucky’s farmers put food on the tables of families across the Commonwealth and across our country. That is why it is so important that the people in Washington give these farmers the stability and certainty they deserve by passing a new long-term Farm Bill.
Just last week, the House of Representatives passed with my support a long-term Farm Bill, known formally as the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act. This sets agriculture and food policies across the country and is critical to farmers. Most importantly, it also provides crop insurance and risk management for those who make a living on the land.
When you drive across Kentucky, you will pass many different farms growing many different crops. While the crops are different, one thing that is the same is the risk farmers take to grow their crops. Just like a family would purchase insurance after investing in a new home or a new automobile, it is important for farmers to be able to have access to insurance for investing in new crops. Farmers can’t predict the future, and have no way to control the weather. We saw this firsthand last summer with the devastating drought, and with crippling floods in past years. The ability for farmers to have access to crop insurance gives them the peace of mind of knowing that they won’t lose their farm for circumstances out of their control. While insurance doesn’t make them whole, it will help their farm survive – much like families file an insurance claim after sustaining damage to their homes or automobiles.
I believe we must do everything we can to ensure that we do not rely on other countries for our food and fiber needs, which is why it is important that there are certain safety nets in place to protect our family farms. I believe a long-term farm bill is necessary because it provides our farmers certainty and saves a considerable amount of money compared to extending the old and outdated 2008 farm bill.
When it comes to government spending these days, almost everyone would agree that we need to find ways to do more with less. The Farm Bill does just that by: saving approximately $20 billion, including $6 billion in sequestration; the repeal or consolidation of more than 100 programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, including direct payments; and eliminating and streamlining the duplicative and overlapping conservation program.
Now that the bill passed in the House, it will now go to a conference committee with the Senate to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill before being sent to the President’s desk for a signature. Since neither the House nor Senate bill is perfect, it is my hope that these recent actions will result in a long term solution on both the Farm title and the food stamp and nutrition titles that can be signed into law before the old law expires at the end of the year.
I have met with numerous Kentucky farmers and I understand just how important the Farm Bill is to these producers, both as a safety net in hard times and as a framework for federal support of our farming industry. This legislation will give Kentucky farmers the tools that they need to keep producing affordable products for American consumers, and for people all over the world, while bringing more money into Kentucky's economy.
It only makes sense that we get a long term solution passed, because when it is all said and done, everyone benefits from low-cost, high quality food.
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