Government Officials Meet to Discuss Farm Bill

Earlier this week, federal, state, and farm officials met in Jamestown, North Dakota, to discuss the upcoming Farm Bill. The Farm Bill, an amalgamation of federal farm policy renewed every five years, has been a subject of contention for the past year. Previous farm bills, in the words of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, have privileged policy over finances, in essence focusing on how best to help the agricultural sector, rather than worrying about spending.

However, recent economic woes and concerns in Congress over the size of the federal deficit have led many politicians to prioritize spending, even if it means retooling the Farm Bill and backing away from necessarily farm policy.

The goal of the North Dakota meeting was to emphasize the ongoing need for a robust Farm Bill. Officials toured rural towns, examining crumbling infrastructure that desperately needs repair (broken roads and bridge are major barriers to the agricultural industry, driving up costs and making it difficult to deliver goods to markets) and water treatment plants.

Part of the Thursday discussion also revolved around finding ways to make the general public understand the needs that farmers are currently facing. As the aggregate number of farmers in the U.S. continues to decline, many communities are experiencing a disconnect between their everyday lives and their connection to the agricultural community. In part, this gap has led many to question the continued need for farm subsidies, particularly given the high price of commodities and record farm profits.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer