A Nebraska congressman and the state’s top ag official sat down with a group of 30 farmers near Beatrice last week to talk about trade, crop insurance and conservation programs.
Congressman Adrian Smith says the “listening session” offered farmers an opportunity to share their thoughts about the upcoming Farm Bill and the future of ag policy.
“Crop insurance is strong, that’s probably the highest priority reflected in these meetings but also the pattern of bureaucracy, red tape and regulations that stand in the way of some of the missions set forth from the federal government,” Smith says. “Sometimes, it gets in its own way.”
Smith says it’s important to get input from Nebraska producers as the process of writing the farm bill will start soon. There were also concerns expressed about shifting trade policy and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“My agriculture colleagues and I, we’ve reminded the administration to not undermine the successes that NAFTA has brought to American agriculture,” Smith says. “I believe the administration is mindful of that, but we need to be vigilant moving forward.”
Since the Farm Bill also involves nutrition and food programs, Smith says it affects every consumer across the country, and not just farmers.
Smith plans another listening session on August 23rd in South Sioux City.
Greg Ibach, the director of the state Department of Agriculture, accompanied Smith to Beatrice. Ibach says he’s hearing the same concerns at each listening session he attends.
Ibach says, “Conservation on working lands, federal crop insurance and trade are the tree priorities that are most brought up.”
He says the sessions help him to understand the concerns of Nebraska producers. Ibach says the ag industry plays an important role in the state’s economy.
“Nebraska is the 4th largest ag producing state in the nation,” Ibach says. “We’re the #1 beef producing state in the nation and there’s a whole bunch of other commodities, we’re in the top five or six. What’s good for agriculture affects Nebraska and is good for Nebraska as well.”
Ibach says having good farm policy will help the ag industry remain strong.
By Dave Niedfeldt, KWBE, Beatrice