By Mark Moran, Public News Service - Iowa
Rural advocacy groups in Iowa have released their priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill, which is already being discussed in Washington, D.C.
The Center for Rural Affairs has spent months gathering input from Iowa farmers, which the group wants lawmakers to consider. The Center is focusing on improving funding for crop insurance, more investment in conservation programs, and supporting entrepreneurial farmers. Those small farmers may otherwise be hesitant to take chances on progressive farming methods without a financial backstop.
Kayla Bergman, the group's policy manager, said the Center set its priorities by listening.
"The priorities outlined in our platform come directly from farmers, rural leaders and other individuals in rural communities that are directly impacted by USDA programs," Bergman pointed out. "These programs are doing great things for rural communities."
The current Farm Bill, which has a price tag of $428 billion, expires next September. The direction of the new bill will be determined in part by the ultimate makeup of the U.S. House and Senate.
Dan Voss, a corn and soybean farmer near Cedar Rapids, is a proponent of progressive farming methods. He's used no-till farming for more than 30 years and plants cover crops in the winter to reduce soil erosion.
Voss said those methods, and support from Congress in this Farm Bill, are critical for preserving Iowa's farmland for future generations.
"Our land's under a lot of stress," Voss noted. "We've got this climate shift going on. We demand more from the land; we'd like higher yields. Adopting these conservation practices helps enable the land to not only maintain - we can actually end up with land that becomes better over time."
Voss added he and other farmers have had substantial input into what may wind up in next year's Farm Bill. He was one of 5,000 farmers who completed a survey about what he thinks would best serve Iowa's farmers in the new legislation.
Click here to listen to the interview.
Press release: Center’s farm bill recommendations seek to protect, ease enrollment for USDA programs