The president of the largest U.S. farm organization says farmers and ranchers are more productive than ever, but aren’t getting the credit they’re due.
Playing off the Occupy Wall Street movement and its contention that the richest 1% in society owe everyone else, Bob Stallman of the American Farm Bureau Federation reminded AFBF convention-goers in Honolulu that farmers are the 1% that are producing food and fiber for the other 99% and their success makes everything else possible including the pitching of tents and shouting of protest slogans.
In his opening address, Stallman asserted that U.S. agriculture is the envy of the world, noting that farm productivity here has increased by nearly 50% during the past three decades.
"In spite of the devastating effects of drought, storms and floods affecting farmers in some parts of the country U.S. agriculture is in good shape," Stallman said.
Stallman also said that U.S. agriculture is willing to help provide answers to questions being raised on the Presidential campaign trail about this country as an entitlement society versus an opportunity society.
“We know that our country’s tight budget constraints will likely dictate how much of a role the government will play in providing a safety net for farmers and ranchers,” Stallman said. “You know that the business of farming has always been risky, it always will be. But we firmly believe farmers possess the skills to navigate the typical ups and downs of our business cycles."
Therefore, he says agriculture should lobby against recent safety net proposals for program crops with payments that kick in and out of a narrow band of support for some crops and set up higher target prices for others. Stallman described Farm Bureau’s Systemic Risk Reduction Program as a more responsible safety net proposal.
“This program is unique in that is will help protect America’s farmers from losses that truly endanger the very core of their farms like catastrophic revenue losses,” Stallman said. “It recognizes today’s budget realities and it is also unique in that it can be applied to a broader range of commodities like fruits and vegetables."
The Farm Bureau leader pleaded with voting delegates to have an open and spirited debate on SRRP to help put the organization on solid farm bill footing.