Farmers from around the country put on business suits and headed to the Capitol lawn Wednesday, united with nutrition, energy and conservation advocates in a clear message: pass a farm bill, now.
The 400-strong rally is supported by more than 90 groups and included speeches from NAWG First Vice President Bing Von Bergen, who farms wheat and barley in Montana, as well as representatives of the Alliance to End Hunger, the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Farmland Trust, National Association of Conservation Districts, National Consumers League and trade associations for producers of soybeans, corn, milk and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Von Bergen spoke on trade policies, which are vital to the wheat industry.
“Each year, we export about half of the total wheat crop produced in this country. Eighty percent of wheat from my home state goes overseas,” he said. “To me, trade means money in farmers’ pockets, growth in our economy and doing my part to feed hungry people around the world.”
Other advocate representatives spoke on the importance of farm bill policies to providing growers a safety net, feeding hungry Americans and conserving U.S. lands, as well as the certainty a long-term farm bill provides to the ag sector, which supports 1 in 12 American jobs.
Several Members of Congress joined the crowd, with remarks delivered by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich); Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.); House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.); and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.).
The rally is part of the larger Farm Bill Now effort launched in August at www.farmbillnow.com. The call to action now has nearly 90 signatory groups, with an additional 1350 individuals signing a petition to support for the statement.
Quick approval of a new farm bill is essential to farmers and the larger economy. Wheat farmers are already planting next year’s crop without a clear understating of how farm policy will affect their businesses when harvest arrives.
Ten farmers from NAWG state associations in Washington, Montana and Idaho came in for the rally.
“We were happy to be able to come out to D.C. this week to inject a little bit of reality into the political debate around the farm bill,” said Joe Anderson, a wheat and dry bean farmer from Genesee, Idaho, and a NAWG director. “We’ve been home doing our jobs, and we expect Congress to do theirs.”
For more about the rally Wednesday and the Farm Bill Now effort, visit www.farmbillnow.com.