The writing of the new Farm Bill has officially begun with the House holding hearings this week. There will be a lot that is the same in this new Farm Bill, but a few things that will be different. Chuck Conner, with the Council of Farmer Cooperatives, has participated in the crafting of more Farm Bills than just about anyone else alive. He told HAT this new Farm Bill will have several new features. For example, trade programs will be a much bigger factor this time around, “This will be a Farm Bill that is about how do we help farmers through some pretty tough times. Trade is a key component of that. Our Export market is about the only outlet for improving prices for commodities.”
Conner, a native Hoosier and former Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, says the conservation title of the new Farm Bill will also have a different approach, “We have a leadership time in place both in Congress and at the administration that believes in cooperative conservation.” He defines that as using conservation assistance to come alongside producers and help them make changes for the good in their operations. “This is different than the leadership we have had the past few years that favored a government regulator showing up at a farm with a switch in hand and telling a famer what he is going to do,” said Conner.
As for the commodity title, Conner sees only minor changes, “Most farmers are happy with the ARC program; there are a few problems, however, and we need to fix those.” He also said the dairy and cotton programs need to be addressed.
The nutrition title will get a lot of attention in this farm Bill, according to Conner, because this Farm Bill cannot pass without the support of non-farm lawmakers.