The Farm Foundation recently hosted a forum on the goals of the next Farm Bill likely to be written in the 115th Congress. Participants heard from varying interests in the Farm Bill including representatives from the Environmental Working Group and the fiscally conservative Heritage Foundation. Also on the panel was Chuck Conner, President, National Council Farmers Cooperatives. Conner formerly served as staff director to the U.S. Senate agriculture Committee and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture in the George W. Bush administration. Conner also served on President-elect Trump’s agriculture advisory board.
Conner made it very clear that President-elect Trump understood the impact of the rural vote on the outcome of his election. Conner elaborated, “This is going to be a user-friendly, farmer-friendly Farm Bill.”
Conner also stated, “I believe farmers, and those in rural communities, voted for President-elect Trump because of over-regulation.” Related to this, 54 agricultural organizations have signed and released their priorities for Regulatory Improvement and Reform for American Agriculture. To review the document click here.
According to the document, the organizations recommend that the new Administration and Congress make reform of the regulatory development process a top priority. The Administration should pledge to work with Congress in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to craft a package of reforms that can be signed into law by the summer of 2018. The President should designate the Director of OMB and the Attorney General as the principal Administration officials charged with interfacing with Congress.
The bipartisan leadership of Congress should establish a working group to join with the Administration in crafting a bipartisan package of reforms that update, improve, strengthen and reform the existing regulatory process.”
Scott Faber, Vice President for Government Affairs, Environmental Working Group, offered comments about the success stories related to the conservation title in the Farm Bill. “The contract between farmers and taxpayers has really enhanced the public benefit in the sense that subsidies provide a public benefit to taxpayers. But, it’s time to take a harder look at that quid pro quo and to ask whether farmers can do more very basic environmental stewardship in exchange for the $15 or $16 billion in subsidies that the Farm Bill provides.”
According to Faber to meet the environmental challenges ahead it may be time to review the conservation contract between farmers and taxpayers. “It’s been 30 years and conservation compliance has been a great success story but maybe it’s time, in light of changing conditions, to step back and look at whether we need to re-open that contract between taxpayers and farmers.”