WASHINGTON — As farmers endure a growing financial crisis in the farm economy, 350 National Farmers Union (NFU) members participating in a fly-in to Washington D.C. this month emphasized the need to pass the 2018 farm bill and urged Congress to provide long-term support for farmers amid an escalating trade war.
The members advocated for a farm bill conference report similar to the current Senate bill, the renewable fuel standard and pushing back from what appears to be an ad hoc trade policy being generated by the White House.
“Farm incomes are down 50 percent over the past five years — even without the tariff tit for tat with countries like China,” said Ohio Farmers Union President Joe Logan, who participated in the fly-in.
“Farmers Union remains an advocate of fair trade, but this is not the time to put family farms at the tip of the spear.”
Members heard from various legislators who agreed.
“There’s a crisis in the making for many North Dakota farmers, and they deserve better than being treated like collateral damage in the administration’s trade war,” said U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
“Amid ongoing trade uncertainty, farmers and ranchers need a strong, bipartisan bill that protects crop insurance, gives growers much-needed predictability, and expands— not shrinks— their access to global markets.”
“Family farmers and ranchers are in the midst of the worst decline in the farm economy in decades, and they want to see action from their federal representatives,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “It is critical right now for family farm agriculture to have the support of Congress and the administration.”
During the fly-in, NFU honored 26 U.S. senators and representatives who support issues that are important to the organization. From Ohio, Democrats U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur both received NFU’s Golden Triangle award again this year.
“Ohio’s family farmers don’t have better friends in Washington than Sherrod Brown and Marcy Kaptur,” said Joe Logan. “Year after year, through tough policy problems and hard votes, Marcy and Sherrod put people first and honor the hard work and unique American perspective of rural Ohio.”
Logan said that Kaptur and Brown were both advocates for a common-sense farm bill. He also noted that their support for reforming the Affordable Care Act were key to their awards this year.
From Pennsylvania, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey also received the award.