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INFB delegates determine federal policy recommendations

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Farm Bureau delegates gathered during the organization’s annual state convention to determine federal policy recommendations which will be presented for consideration next month at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national convention, also held annually. The recommendations determined Saturday were focused on the 2018 farm bill.

“Indiana Farm Bureau wants to take a proactive role in helping shape the next farm bill,” said INFB Public Policy Director Katrina Hall. “Agriculture is made up of so many diverse interests, and it is important that Hoosier farmers and Midwestern commodities find their voice in federal policy discussions.”

INFB delegates discussed 11 farm bill titles. Among those, priority focus was placed on the crop insurance, commodity, conservation and nutrition titles.

Regarding the crop insurance title, delegates voted to recommend supporting the continued availability of whole farm revenue protection insurance and ways to encourage the USDA and producers to both utilize the product. Delegates also voted to recommend opposing caps or limits being applied to crop insurance premium assistance to producers.

“The solvency and availability of the crop insurance program is extremely important to our members,” said Hall. “The program allows farmers to purchase policies specifically tailored to their operation at a much lower cost for coverage than fully private insurers can provide.”

Delegates agreed to recommend that the next farm bill’s commodity title should be based on:

• Providing timely payments.

• Using state price and county yield data when determining revenue benchmarks and loss triggers.

• Protecting producers from multi-year price volatility.

In the next farm bill’s conservation title, delegates would like to see greater flexibility for farmers in receiving technical assistance from government agencies for conservation practices, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in a federal conservation program.

Also of note, delegates voted to oppose the separation of the nutrition title from the balance of the farm bill. Additionally, delegates expressed opposition to the block-granting of SNAP as an alternative mechanism of administering the program.

“Keeping the nutrition title connected to the farm bill is necessary when building the coalition of support need to pass the other titles upon which farmers rely so heavily,” said Hall. “Including the nutrition title is an effort to build relationships and goodwill with urban and/or progressive lawmakers whose votes will be needed down the road.”

While adoption of these recommendations is not guaranteed, Indiana Farm Bureau’s proactive efforts will flavor the federal agriculture policy discussions in January and beyond. INFB’s advance legwork will put Hoosier farmers’ ideas in play, ensuring that Midwest interests have been vetted and can be heard.