Farmers on a Sedgwick County Farm Bureau Wheat Tour on Thursday told Congressman Mike Pompeo, R-Kan. that two things the Farm Bill needs to provide are money for research and development and a robust crop insurance program.
Monsanto/West Bred senior wheat breeder Sid Perry told the Congressman that his company invests between $1 and $2 million and up to 10 years in research to introduce one new wheat variety to the
"You throw in trying to do anything biotech and the price tag goes up," he said.
Sedgwick County farmer Kent Winter, who is this year's county Farm Bureau president, told the Congressman that one bushel of wheat yields 70 one-pound loaves of bread and the farmer's share of the price on the retail shelf is about 10 cents.
"The risk we take is huge," he said. "We aren't asking for a program that guarantees us we will always make a profit, just one that will keep us afloat when big disasters like last year's drought or the Easter freeze of 2007 hit."
Pompeo praised the work of Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which passed its version of a Farm Bill out of committee last week.
"I am hopeful that we will see a House bill written," he said. "And I can tell that you that I am as sure as I am standing here that the House version will protect crop insurance. We have all been very aware that crop insurance is a high priority for our farmers."
Speaking to the farm group following the tour, Pompeo said he can't directly address the Farm Bill because he is not on the House Ag Committee, but he did offer a rundown from two committees he does serve on: energy and trade.
"I think all of you are aware of how the price of energy impacts your bottom line," he said. "I assure you that I am working hard to make sure we get the energy component right."
Pompeo said no politician can do anything that directly impacts the price of gasoline. But, he said, federal policies on energy do have a long-term effect on price and he blamed the fact that new refineries have not been built in the last 30 days and a slowdown in pipeline construction for today's prices."
On trade, he said the 4th Congressional District in Kansas is the third most trade-dependent district in the U.S. and the biggest trade items are agriculture products and equipment and airplanes.
He praised the passage of the Panama, Columbia and South Korea free trade agreements and pledged to continue to work to open more markets and bring more transparency to price discovery.