Representatives from the Farm Bureau today called on Congress to take action on a federal farm bill, emphasizing that farm and ranch families deserve the certainty of knowing that a safety net is in place to protect from the risks inherent in agriculture.  

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and a family farmer from Texas, came to Dakotafest today near Mitchell to rally support for the farm bill, stating that passing the legislation must be at the very top of Congress’ to-do list when returning from August recess. 

“We have to keep the heat on Congress to get a five-year farm bill done this year,” Stallman commented.  “A growing number of people are predicting that we will have another short-term extension of the current farm bill, because Congress will not be able to pass a new one.  Frankly, I think that’s a cop-out.  It’s premature to even be talking about an extension.  There is plenty of time in this Congress to pass a five-year farm bill.  We have to stay focused on getting it done.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation represents more than 6 million member families nationwide, making it the largest farm and ranch organization in the country.  South Dakota Farm Bureau represents more than 13,000 farm, ranch, and rural families across the state.

Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau and a family farmer from Volga, S.D., noted that Farm Bureau opposed splitting the nutrition title from the farm program portion of the bill because it may reduce the odds of getting the legislation passed.  However, the version that passed the House did separate out the nutrition title, and VanderWal says Farm Bureau will work with both sides to get something to the President’s desk.

“We urge Congress to put politics aside, do the right thing for the country, and finish the Farm Bill process.  Agriculture needs the certainty of knowing what programs and safety net provisions are in place,” VanderWal stated.  “Food security in our country is a national security issue.  We must maintain the ability to feed ourselves, and having risk management tools through a five-year farm bill is the way to create certainty for our farm and ranch families and the food supply they provide.” 

VanderWal also expressed Farm Bureau’s thanks to South Dakota’s Congressional delegation for their hard work on the issue of a farm bill.  “With so many in Congress hailing from urban areas, we realize it can be an uphill battle to make sure agriculture and rural issues are represented.  We appreciate the efforts of our Congressional delegation to make sure we have a voice in D.C.,” he added.