Farm Bill Hearing on Tap in Kansas

Commodity groups are coming together to offer united front on the next Farm Bill.

Published on: Aug 25, 2011

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ranking Member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., are in Wichita, Kan. for another round of farm bill hearings.

Many agricultural industry leaders are set to testify Thursday including Bob Henry, chair of the Farm Bill Committee of the American Soybean Association. He says there will be plenty of things on his list to bring to the attention of the lawmakers including crop insurance, the Average Crop Revenue Election program and other ways to manage risk.

Trade is another area that Henry hopes to drive home the importance of, since agriculture is one of the view industries that currently has a trade surplus.

"Each billion dollars of agriculture exports equals 8,000 jobs in this country, so it is huge," Henry said. "We are emphasizing the Foreign Market Development program and the Market Access Program, and ask that they remain to be funded at the level they have been in the past to help work on these foreign export markets to increase the value of our soybeans.

But Henry notes there's a big change from years past when it comes to taking the message of the Farm Bill to Capitol Hill.

"All the commodity groups have sat down and are working in concert to represent a united front and all be on the same page so to speak, as to what we want them to hear in Washington," Henry said. "Whether its wheat, corn, soybeans, milo, etcetera, etcetera, and even in the South with cotton we're trying to get a common voice. That's been a big change from the past and we've realized that you have to have a united front and coalitions are important."

At the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall agrees with that, and adds that he thinks the Senate Agriculture Committee will listen to what everyone has to say.

"You know this committee is taking us pretty seriously, they want to hear from producers," Woodall said. "They want to have a dialog because they know that we may be writing a Farm Bill sometime this fall if this Super Committee that is out there makes some pretty tough decisions on agriculture. So they are doing everything they can to be prepared and make sure we air out all these concerns that we have in agriculture right now."

Other producers testifying along with Bob Henry include Ken McCauley, a past president of the National Corn Growers Association; Steve Baccus, Kansas Farm Bureau president; and Greg Shelor, a past president of National Sorghum Producers. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will also address the committee.