The recent appointment of House members to the 2013 Farm Bill Conference Committee has many farm groups weighing in on policy priorities ahead of committee action, including National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson.
Johnson this week sent a letter to Senate and House conferees outlining NFU's priorities for the final version of the legislation, noting that the group is pleased to see the process move forward.
However, Johnson said a top priority is that members maintain farm bill permanent law, as enacted in 1938 and 1949, which provides a regular requirement for Congress to update and review farm and related policy.
"Rescinding permanent law would remove the incentive to update and reauthorize the farm bill, leaving conservation, renewable energy, rural development, research, trade and other provisions without authority to continue," said Johnson.
The American Farm Bureau Federation submitted a similar request in a separate letter, also this week.
Further high priorities for NFU include establishing fixed reference prices for commodity programs, providing $900 million in mandatory funding for renewable energy efforts, and including adequate funding levels for the Farmers Market and Local Foods Promotion Program.
The group also supports retaining the controversial Country of Origin labeling requirement set forth by the USDA, which it is currently defending in legal action with opposing groups.
In addition, the group advocates enacting an inventory management tool as part of the dairy safety net, which could require farmers to manage milk supply levels or take a milk check deduction to drive prices up.
The letter also highlighted 18 other important farm bill issues on which NFU has taken a position.
"I urge the conference committee to take swift action so that we can ensure certainty for all Americans with a new farm bill signed into law before the end of the year," Johnson concluded.