Twenty six agricultural, financial and conservation organizations have told the North Dakota congressional delegation that crop insurance, agricultural research, trade and a strong safety net are the priority issues in the negotiations leading up to the 2012 Farm Bill.
"These recommendations stem from a recent meeting in Bismarck when these groups discussed issues of significance to North Dakota agriculture," says Doug Goehring, North Dakota ag commissioner. "The recommendations do not represent all of the programs and issues that were raised at the meeting but identifies significant support and consensus for programs that North Dakota producers find most important to maintaining the health of the state's most important industry."
Goehring says he was not surprised that crop insurance topped the list of recommendations.
"Crop insurance is an essential risk management tool for farmers and increasingly for ranchers. Lenders often require producers to have crop insurance to qualify for operating loans. In addition to the overall insurance program, we encourage the delegation to support funding for 508h which encourages the development of crop insurance products, including next-generation products."
Goehring says support for agricultural research was strong.
"Research is essential to accomplishing our goal of feeding, clothing, and fueling our nation and a growing world population. Research in areas ranging from pest management to cropping systems and practices helps our farmers and ranchers produce more products with fewer inputs."
Goehring says agricultural trade programs, such as the Foreign Market Development Program and the Market Access Program have helped achieve and maintain agriculture's positive trade balance, "the one bright spot in the overall United States' trade balance." He says the programs are essential to expanding new markets for U.S. agricultural products, and their cost is miniscule compared to the overall agriculture bill appropriation.
"A viable safety net is critical to sustaining a producer's operation in the aftermath of damaging weather events, such as those that have impacted North Dakota this year. Programs such as the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program, the Average Crop Revenue Election Program and the Livestock Indemnity Program can play a vital role as safety net tools."
The recommendations were recently sent in letters to U.S. Sens. Kent Conrad and John Hoeven and U.S. Rep. Rick Berg.
Organizations signing the letter included:
American Malting Barley Association
Independent Community Banks of North Dakota
Milk Producers Association of North Dakota
Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative
National Sunflower Association
North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts
North Dakota Bankers Association
North Dakota Corn Growers Association
North Dakota Ethanol Council
North Dakota Farm Bureau
North Dakota Farm Credit Council
North Dakota Farmers Union
North Dakota Grain Growers Association
North Dakota Lamb and Wool Producers Association
North Dakota Natural Resources Trust
North Dakota Pork Council
North Dakota Soybean Growers Association
North Dakota Stockmen's Association
Northarvest Bean Growers Association
Northern Canola Growers Association
Northern Plains Potato Growers Association
Northern Pulse Growers Association
Professional Insurance Agents of North Dakota
Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association
United States Durum Growers Association
Source: ND Department of Agriculture