Today’s Topic: Finally, a farm bill

by | Feb 11, 2014

Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

Congress gave final approval to a new five-year farm bill last week, and President Obama has signed it. This legislation is long overdue, and it finally gives farmers a clear picture of federal agricultural policy for the next five years.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect farm bill,” Commissioner Troxler says, adding that this bill at least gives farmers and ranchers the tools and confidence to supply the growing worldwide demand for food and fuel.

State agriculture commissioners and secretaries worked through the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture on a seven-item priority list for the farm bill. One of NASDA’s top priorities was crop insurance, and this farm bill expands the crop insurance program. Being able to manage risk is so important in agriculture today, Troxler says. Crop insurance is preferable to ad hoc disaster relief programs. Insurance involves a premium paid by the farmer, plus some subsidizing by the government. But ad hoc disaster relief is typically 100 percent funded by taxpayers. Plus, ad hoc disaster relief programs can take years to pay out.

The farm bill also continues support for conservation and agricultural research programs, as well as programs that enhance specialty crops and help farmers compete in valuable overseas markets.

The bill also includes something the Commissioner worked hard to have included, and that’s a feasibility study for developing business-disruption insurance for poultry producers. More than once in recent years in North Carolina, there have been devastating impacts on producers when integrators filed for bankruptcy or closed plants. The Commissioner hopes the study will lead to creating a safety net for poultry producers.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss the farm bill and why calling it a “farm bill” is a bit of a misnomer.

[Audio:|titles=Today’s Topic for Feb. 11]

Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.