NFU urges Perdue to work with congress on improvements to the farm safety net
WASHINGTON – As the troubled farm economy pushes more and more American family farmers and ranchers into significant financial stress, National Farmers Union today urged U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to work with Congress to make significant enhancements to the farm safety net.
Secretary Perdue will make two appearances in front of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives respective agriculture committees this week.
“Secretary Perdue has two very important opportunities ahead of him this week to lay the groundwork for improvements to the farm safety net,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Oversupply and trade disruptions, among other issues currently plaguing the farm economy, are likely to continue to depress farm prices into the foreseeable future. Family farmers and ranchers need a strong safety net to continue to weather these difficult economic circumstances. We need the Secretary to be a strong advocate at this critical juncture for family farm agriculture.”
The secretary will first headline a Feb. 27 U.S. House Agriculture Committee hearing on the state of the rural economy.
“The secretary can and should use his Wednesday hearing to make the case for mechanisms to strengthen or supplement the farm safety net, particularly due to the long-lasting impacts of the president’s ongoing trade wars,” said Johnson. “While it’s important to remain optimistic during these tough times, we need to be realistic about what’s in store for American agriculture.
“A majority of American farmers lost money last year, and that has been the case over the past several years,” Johnson explained. “Farm prices are unsustainably low. Farm lending is tightening. Farm hotlines are overloaded. Farm bankruptcies are rising.”
Secretary Perdue will also make an appearance before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday to discuss implementation of the 2018 farm bill.
“The farm bill was an important step toward providing farmers the certainty they need, but the administration and congressional leadership need to work together to provide additional relief that reflects the current economic circumstances,” said Johnson. “Global oversupply of top commodities is forecast to continue into 2019, and USDA projects the overall trend of real agricultural prices to continue to decline over the next ten years. On top of that, self-inflicted trade disruptions have ruined export markets for farmers, likely for generations to come.”
“Knowing that many more family farmers and ranchers will be forced out of business without increased support, the secretary must use every opportunity he has to work with Congress to strengthen support for family farmers,” Johnson concluded.