Legislators face three hurdles as they begin debate on the next farm bill, says an Alabama farm lender.
Camp Powers, divisional president, South Alabama division of First South Farm Credit, said lack of money, loss of key players in Congress and a global economy pose significant challenges to legislators representing farm areas.
“We still seem to have plenty of money for foreign aid,” Powers said during a financing agriculture seminar at the Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Panama City, Fla., recently.
He said not much money will come out of Social Security and Medicare programs.
“Many former key players (on agriculture committees) are no longer there,” he said. “It’s a challenge. We have fewer friends in Washington than we used to, and a lot of congressmen have no clue about agriculture.”
He said the global economy also poses obstacles to achieving the kind of farm bill farmers and ranchers are accustomed to. “We seem to have forgotten the lessons of the past, when people went hungry. European countries have not forgotten that.”
He said the memory of food shortages has prompted European nations to maintain strong farm programs.
“Some in the U.S. Congress do not understand.”
He said the attitude in Washington and other cities appears to be: “It doesn’t matter where food comes from. But we need it to be clean, inspected and American grown.”
Powers said growers and their associations need to “urge Congress to do a better job managing money, and we need to do a better job communicating with them. We need to convince the public that a farm bill is a good thing. Speak up for the industry.”