This year’s Farm Bill renewal comes at a critical time for farmers

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 4:09 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WEAU) - This year’s farm bill renewal comes at a critical time.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, over 400 Wisconsin family owned dairy farms closed in 2022.

“What makes the Farm Bill different this time around is the lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic, that the idea that national security or our food security could be threatened because of a lack of resiliency in the food supply chain,” Mike Stranz, Vice President of Advocacy, National Farmers Union, said.

Wisconsin farmers are struggling to keep up with record-high inflation and an inconsistent supply chain. But what are lawmakers here in D.C. doing to ensure that these farmers get back on their feet?

Congressman Derrick Van Orden says one priority is to make it easier for farmers to have crop insurance.

“If you don’t have the ability to have crop insurance, that farmer loses that million dollars, they don’t get, don’t get to do that again, and then the farm goes out of business,” Rep. Derrick Van Orden (WI-03) said.

Van Orden also wants the bill to address supply chain issues like the price of diesel fuel, acquiring chemicals and obtaining tractor parts.

However, farmers say they want to ensure the markets are fair to compete in.

“Only three companies control about 95% of the market for large tractor maintenance and sales. i mean, there’s this huge amount of consolidation that’s already happened. if we don’t step in and make sure these markets are competitive through, say, a competition title in the next farm bill. that’s only gonna get worse. So now’s the time to act, now’s the time to make sure we’re stepping up for fairness for farmer,” Stranz said.

Senator Tammy Baldwin is pushing for the bill to expand funding for the Farmer’s First Act, ensuring mental health resources are more accessible for farmers.

“Small and medium sized farms struggling year after year to stay ahead to stay in business against headwinds. with the economy and weather and everything else, the greater number of tools we can provide, but also, that support more on a personal level when it is feeling like a strain and you’re feeling isolated,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said.

The Senate Agriculture Committee has an online forum to submit your input on the new Bill. That is available HERE.