An opinion from Farm Policy Facts
We all rely on American farmers and ranchers to grow the crops and raise the livestock that keep us fed, fueled, and clothed – often working long hours and tiring days. Thanks to American agriculture, we all benefit from the world’s safest and most abundant food supply, even during crises such as a global pandemic.
It’s outrageous that a vocal minority of farm critics are now trying to advance policies that would jeopardize these same farms and ranches.
American farmers and ranchers are facing catastrophic conditions and need our support, not policies which would make it more difficult to operate.
On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mother Nature has reared her head again. Excessive rain has flooded croplands in parts of New England and the South while drought stretches across the entirety of the West into the Midwest.
The drought is especially severe, and the images of withered crops are startling.
The New York Times noted that if more farmers in drought-stricken California are forced to let their land lie fallow due to a lack of water, it could have “potentially dire consequences for the nation’s food supply.”
It’s not just crops that are affected, either. The lack of rain has led to poor grazing conditions and reduced forage for cattle and other livestock.
“You can feel it deep inside of you because when you put your heart and soul into this work, and you go outside and it feels hopeless, I don’t really have the words to explain it further… It’s really sad,” Colorado produce farmer Mindy Perkovich told NPR.
America’s farmers and ranchers are resilient – but they’re not shatterproof. They need strong policies now, more than ever.
That means pushing back on bad bills that could place our farmers under even greater stress.
Here are a few of the latest anti-farmer measures being floated by critics in Congress:
- A new tax proposal would devastate America’s hardworking farm families by changing the way farms are taxed when they’re passed from one generation to another. The experts at Texas A&M’s Agricultural and Food Policy Center surveyed nearly 100 family farms and found that this new tax would impact 98% of the farms and leave families with an average tax bill of $726,000.
- Radical efforts to gut America’s successful no-cost sugar policy would drive American sugar farmers out of business and outsource American jobs to foreign countries that heavily subsidize their sugar industries. The so-called Fair Sugar Policy Act is far from fair and would threaten the domestic supply chain for this essential ingredient.
Any legislation that undermines the farm safety net and harms our farmers – at a time when we need them the most – is shortsighted at best and disastrous at worst.
That’s because not only would these bills impact the ability of farmers and ranchers to keep doing their jobs, but they would have reverberating consequences across the economy. As farms closed, unable to pay hefty tax bills or finding their jobs outsourced thanks to a flood of subsidized foreign sugar, stores up and down Main Street would have to hang “Out of Business” signs, too.
Farmers invest in their communities by purchasing supplies at the feed store, new machinery from the equipment dealer, crop insurance from their local agent, and their everyday necessities from the small businesses that are the lifeblood of rural America.
“Our farmers deserve praise, not condemnation,” President John F. Kennedy once famously said.
They also deserve fair policies and the full support of our politicians.