Ag Groups Send Farm Bill Recommendations to Delegation

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and 26 agricultural, financial and conservation organizations have told the state's congressional delegation that crop insurance, agricultural research, trade and a strong safety net are the priority issues for North Dakota in the negotiations leading up to the 2012 Farm Bill.

“These recommendations stem from a recent meeting in Bismarck when these groups discussed issues of significance to North Dakota agriculture,” Goehring said. “The recommendations do not represent all of the programs and issues that were raised at the meeting but identifies significant support and consensus for programs that North Dakota producers find most important to maintaining the health of the state's most important industry.”

Goehring said he was not surprised that crop insurance topped the list of recommendations.

“Crop insurance is an essential risk management tool for farmers and increasingly for ranchers,” he said. “Lenders often require producers to have crop insurance to qualify for operating loans. In addition to the overall insurance program, we encourage the delegation to support funding for 508h which encourages the development of crop insurance products, including next-generation products.”

Goehring said support for agricultural research was strong.

“Research is essential to accomplishing our goal of feeding, clothing, and fueling our nation and a growing world population,” he said. “Research in areas ranging from pest management to cropping systems and practices helps our farmers and ranchers produce more products with fewer inputs.”

Goehring said agricultural trade programs, such as the Foreign Market Development Program and the Market Access Program have helped achieve and maintain agriculture's positive trade balance, “the one bright spot in the overall United States' trade balance.” He said the programs are essential to expanding new markets for U.S. agricultural products, and their cost is miniscule compared to the overall agriculture bill appropriation.

“A viable safety net is critical to sustaining a producer's operation in the aftermath of damaging weather events, such as those that have impacted North Dakota this year,” Goehring said. “Programs such as the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program, the Average Crop Revenue Election Program and the Livestock Indemnity Program can play a vital role as safety net tools.”

The recommendations were sent Wednesday, in a letter to U.S. Sens. Kent Conrad and John Hoeven and U.S. Rep. Rick Berg.