Indiana Farm Bureau task force develops priorities for the 2023 farm bill
An Indiana Farm Bureau task force is working to outline organization priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill.
Bob White, director of national government relations with INFB, says the farm bill task force includes a variety of producers.
“It includes members who have expertise in nutrition, dairy, crop insurance, risk management, row crop production agriculture, specialty crops, and livestock,” he says. “There were a couple of people on the task force that had international trade experience as well as energy experience and forestry. There are 12 different titles in the farm bill and when farmers get together, we typically think of Title 1, which is the commodity title that impacts us, and then Title 2, which is the conservation title that has many different programs our members use. But there are also 10 other titles.”
Indiana Farm Bureau contracted Aimpoint Research to conduct a farm bill survey last summer to determine what did and didn’t work for Indiana farmers in the 2018 Farm Bill. From there, a 22-member task force was created and began meeting in November.
The task force discussed various issues that are important to Hoosier farmers. White says the biggest takeaway from the group was to “do no harm” when crafting the next farm bill.
“If you’re going to interject climate into the conservation program, make sure that it is voluntary, and incentive based,” he says. “…The one size fits all, cookie-cutter approach doesn’t work because if you’ve been on one farm, you’ve only been on one farm.”
He says the task force also discussed what could happen if additional funding is secured for the upcoming farm bill.
“In the crop insurance program, the group would like to see a change in the reference prices or the subsidy levels,” he says. “In the conservation programs, we’d like to see changes to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program because there are more applications submitted than can be funded. There could also be increased funding in the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides help for farmers that want to provide their farm with renewable energy whether it be wind, solar, methane digesters, or things of that nature.”
Research was another big topic.
“The task force decided that if you’re going to insert climate into the conservation program, specifically carbon market programs, there needs to be more research done on ‘if I do this to my field what does that do to the carbon sequestration level of that particular farm using that particular practice,’” he says. “There are a lot of private companies offering carbon programs and very few of them can really get down into the weeds and tell you what’s going to happen if you have to change production methods and there’s just a lot more research that needs to be done.”
White says this process wouldn’t be possible without input from farmer members.
“We’re a grassroots organization and we depend on our member’s input on our policy,” he says.
A report based on the work of the task force will be finalized and released this year. The 2018 Farm Bill expires in 2023.
Click here for more information and look out for Indiana Farm Bureau’s public policy newsletter, Dispatch.
Audio: Bob White