The release by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) assures America’s farmers and ranchers that congressional agriculture leaders recognize the economic challenges agricultural producers face.  

“We’re pleased to see progress on the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Montana Farm Bureau President Hans McPherson. “It’s good to see provisions for specialty crop programs, improvements on conservation and rural development programs in this farm bill. However, what is especially important to Montana farmers and ranchers is improvement to crop insurance and disaster assistance.” 

The diversified farmer explains that because of Montana’s varied weather conditions across the state, strong crop insurance and disaster assistance programs are imperative. “One corner of our state can be flooding, the other corner can be in a drought, with the middle on fire,” said McPherson. “The past 10 months have been very challenging for our farmers and ranchers. We’ve had flooding, fires and an endless winter. In some areas, farmers are having a hard time getting into the fields to plant. In other areas, ranchers can’t get feed to their cows and calves because of deep snow followed by incredible mud. Who doesn’t remember the devastating fires of the 2017 summer? The bottom line is we need all-inclusive disaster coverage.” 

McPherson adds that when he worked for the Farm Service Agency, sometimes it was difficult to help those with livestock losses because of the lack of records. “I can’t say strongly enough how important it is to keep records of livestock losses and what caused them. Take photos. Your local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and FSA can help, but records are critical.” 

“I reiterate that to Montanans, the most important aspects that will be in the farm bill is accessibility to crop insurance and disaster programs that can help put a rancher back on his feet when things are beyond his control,” McPherson said. “Consumers need to remember that farmers and ranchers are the folks putting food on their tables. It’s important to have a safety net when times get tough.” 

The American Farm Bureau expressed their enthusiasm as well for progress on the farm bill. President Zippy Duvall noted, “The House Agriculture Committee’s proposed 2018 farm bill shows the committee is aware of a farm economy teetering on a knife’s edge. The legislation released will assist farmers and ranchers battered by commodity prices that often do not cover the costs of production. This is one step to bring certainty to our farmers when we face challenges from many different directions. There are still details to be worked out, and we stand ready to work closely with leadership and members of the committee to move forward. We urge Congress to complete a new farm bill soon that promotes food security, a strong farm economy and the thousands of jobs that are supported by America’s agricultural productivity.”