This fall, Congress has an important opportunity to create
jobs and grow the economy by passing a long-term, comprehensive Food, Farm and
The farm bill impacts every American every day by providing
a wide range of programs that strengthen our nation.
The farm bill is crucial to maintaining a strong agriculture
sector and an abundant food supply that benefits all Americans.
Over the past two years, producers have faced a multitude of
disasters — from drought to flooding to blizzards. These events demonstrate how
important the safety net is to keeping producers going strong.
Under the 2008 farm bill, the Farm Service Agency was able
to provide $153.9 million in disaster assistance in Indiana using farm bill
A new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would provide a strong crop
insurance program, reauthorize the now-expired disaster assistance programs and
provide retroactive assistance for livestock producers.
By reforming the safety net to eliminate the direct payment
program — which pays producers whether or not they are in need of assistance —
the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would also save billions of dollars in the next
It would enable the U.S. Department of Agriculture to
continue our work with more than 500,000 producers and landowners to conserve
the soil and water resources.
In addition, it would allow USDA to continue export
promotion efforts that have led to the best five-year period in agricultural
trade in American history and provide FSA with the tools to extend additional
farm credit in Indiana.
The farm bill is also a job creation bill that would empower
USDA to partner with rural communities to grow, expand and support new
A new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would help Main Street
businesses grow and hire more employees, strengthen infrastructure in our small
towns and provide new opportunities in bio-based product manufacturing and
For example, in Indiana, USDA Rural Development has provided
funding for 354 projects since 2009 to help farmers and rural businesses save
energy through the Rural Energy for America Program. This and many other efforts
could continue with a new farm bill.
A new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would make important
investments in nutrition programs that provide critical assistance to vulnerable
Americans, including children, seniors, people with disabilities who are unable
to work and returning veterans. It would undertake new strategies to improve
agricultural research, and it would ensure a safe food supply.
All of these efforts strengthen our nation. A new Food, Farm
and Jobs Bill would continue the job growth we’ve seen in recent years and help
grow the rural economy.
This is a prime opportunity to give America’s farmers the
certainty they need about the next five years of U.S. farm policy, while
investing in the rural communities that stand at the heart of our values.
The farm bill has stood as a model of bipartisan consensus
for decades, and it is high time that both Democrats and Republicans come to a
compromise on this new farm bill.
It is our hope that Senate and House conferees will reach a
consensus quickly and move a farm bill forward as soon as possible.
Wickard is the state executive
director of the Indiana Farm Service Agency. Lehmkuhler is the state director of
Indiana Rural Development.