Farm bill passage needs support from more than farmers

Published online: Mar 08, 2013
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The National Farmers Union president says all of agriculture will have to speak up in order to get Congress to pass a permanent farm bill.

Roger Johnson tells Brownfield that in past, more than one segment of agriculture has had to push for farm bill passage.

"Traditionally those three legs of support have been what have pushed the farm bill through," Johnson told Brownfield Ag News, at the NFU annual meeting in Springfield, Mass., "the farmers, the folks who want a safety net for when times are difficult, the nutrition folks and the conservation community."

To Johnson, the farm bill extension, pushed through at the end of the year, meant the end of many 2008 farm bill programs that he says were forward thinking and needed.

In the 2008 farm bill, Johnson cited the beginning farmer programs, an energy title focused on renewable energy, a number of new conservation initiatives, new initiatives for farmers markets and what Johnson called "the growing voice of urban agriculture."

"They got lost with this extension; none of them got extended, or if they did, there was no money for them," said Johnson, "so for all practical purposes, they ceased to exist."

Johnson says all farmers and ranchers need to take an active role in encouraging Congress to pass permanent farm policy.