Fifteen organizations, including Heritage Action for America, have joined forces in a letter to members of Congress to combat “excessive federal government intervention” in the farming and ranching industries.
The Agricultural Act of 2014, frequently called the “the farm bill,” is set to expire in September of 2018.
With renewal talks already underway, the coalition has outlined three principles that it hopes will be evident in the next farm bill:
Farmers should be allowed to compete freely in the marketplace. Like other businesses, farmers should be able to reap the rewards of competition. By removing existing interventionist policies that attempt to insulate farmers from market forces, such as low prices, the federal government will allow farmers to better respond to the market.
At most, the federal government should only provide risk-related assistance for uncontrollable natural events. It is one thing to protect farmers from major crop losses and quite another to protect them from less-than-expected revenue. Any type of risk-related federal assistance should only be provided if there has been a major crop loss, such as from severe weather.
Federal agricultural policy should not be a source of cronyism. Federal programs should not benefit favored special interests at the expense of other agricultural producers, consumers, taxpayers, or other industries.
According to the Michigan State University Extension, the farm bill currently funds:
Agricultural related loans, crop insurance and disaster assistance for farmers, nutrition education, cooperative extension education and outreach, programs related to energy and forestry, as well as supplemental nutrition assistance for low-income families.
The coalition critical of the bill, which also includes Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, and the National Center for Public Policy Research, among others, support fewer regulations and restrictions for farming, writing that farmers “are more than capable of competing in the marketplace.”
However, some oppose making cuts to the farm bill. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, said in a prepared statement at a Kansas farm field hearing in February that “more than 500 groups—from every part of the farm and food sector—came together to reject calls for additional cuts to farm bill programs including crop insurance, nutrition, and conservation.”
Nonetheless, the signers say they hope to restore economic freedom to farmers and ranchers, writing in the letter, “We believe that it is long overdue to place faith in American farmers and treat them with the respect they deserve as sophisticated and innovative business leaders.”