Indiana Ag Policy Summit Focuses on Farm Bill

A Hoosier farmer and Washington’s perspective on what ag needs in the next Farm Bill
 
INDIANAPOLIS, July 28, 2017 — The Indiana Ag Policy Summit, hosted by the Indiana Corn Growers Association and Indiana Soybean Alliance Membership and Policy Committee, dove into the expectations Indiana farmers would like to set for a new Farm Bill, coupled with Washington-insider perspectives. 
 
The meeting, held at the Biltwell Event Center in downtown Indianapolis on Wednesday, July 26, brought together corn and soybean farmers with leadership from across the agriculture sector to dissect what, and how, a new Farm Bill could be brought to fruition. 
 
The farmer-focused panel of Joe Steinkamp, American Soybean Association board member, Anngie Steinbarger, Indiana Soybean Alliance Membership and Policy chair, and Randy Kron, Indiana Farm Bureau president, highlighted the considerably diverse priorities farmers will want to maintain in the next Farm Bill. These priorities included crop insurance, conservation, research, trade and young farmer programs. As Joe Steinkamp pointedly stated, “Nearly 60 percent of all soybeans are exported, and one-half of those go to one market: China. A focus on MAP and FMD [Market Access Program, Foreign Market Development] opens new markets to feed more pigs, feed more fish, with Indiana soybeans.” 
 
Anngie Steinbarger cautioned against big changes in the next Farm Bill, and rather, to keep the opportunities farmers now have to spread risk. “Big changes equal more implementation dollars to make those happen. We’ve already invested in the new programs we have,” Steinbarger noted. Adding, “The Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program is a great example of something that we need to keep moving.” 
 
Randy Kron mentioned the need for reliability in an always volatile marketplace while not losing sight of the fact that farmers are the original stewards of the land. “I always tell my son, who is farming with us now, we have to leave it better than we found it,” said Kron.
 
Managing risk and understanding the right way to do that was a continuing theme. Brooke Appleton, director of public policy and political strategy at the National Corn Growers Association, spoke about the need to support farmer priorities with data to back it up. “Accurate data sources are a number one need, especially as we look at programs like ARC and PLC [Agriculture Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage]. We’re reviewing a lot of data to come to the table with the best way to support our farmers’ priorities.” 
 
Keynote speaker, Jim Wiesemeyer, Pro Farmer’s Washington policy analyst, cautioned that in a tumultuous D.C., getting the Farm Bill passed without losing dollars will be a long battle. And, while trade is a number one need, it will continue to be a target in the new administration. Reviewing NAFTA, NAFTA 2.0, TPP and possible bi-lateral agreements, Wiesemeyer also said, “Education is needed for any trade agreement to pass,” adding that the nutrition title is a must to keep the Farm Bill in play. 
 
Don Lamb, Boone County, Ind. farmer, noted, “I think it’s important to remember that while we worry about crop insurance and conservation dollars, we [farmers] want to be part of the solution; nutrition matters and we’re compassionate people so the nutrition title matters to us, too.” 
 
Following remarks from the keynote speaker, farmer panel and representatives from the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association, Jane Ade-Stevens, executive director of the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Growers Association, closed the summit with a reminder that all farmers will be needed to tell their story. “Our policy committee represents farmer interests in these conversations, and we can’t do it without you and your story.” Patrick Delaney, director of policy communication at American Soybean Association, added, “Our talking points just need to fit into 140 characters now.” 
 
The Ag Policy Summit was sponsored by Monsanto, Beck’s Hybrids, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, Farm Credit Mid-America, Asgrow and DuPont Pioneer. 
 
###
 
About Indiana Corn Growers Association: The ICGA board, which works with the state and federal governments to develop and promote sound policies that benefit Indiana corn farmers, consists of 15 farmer-directors who provide leadership to the organization on behalf of the nearly 600 ICGA members statewide. Learn more at www.incorn.org/icga.
 
About Indiana Soybean Alliance: The Indiana Soybean Alliance works to enhance the viability of Indiana soybean farmers through the effective and efficient investment of soybean checkoff funds and the development of sound policies that protect and promote the interest of Indiana soybean farmers. The ISA is working to build new markets for soybeans through the promotion of biodiesel, livestock, international marketing, new soybean uses, aquaculture, and research. ISA is led by an elected farmer board that directs investments of the soybean checkoff funds on behalf of more than 28,000 Indiana soybean farmers and promotes policies on behalf of the ISA’s 950 dues-paying members. For more information, visit www.indianasoybean.com.
 
The Indiana Soybean Alliance Membership and Policy Committee as well as the Indiana Corn Growers Association are funded through direct contributions and are not associated with, or funded by, checkoff dollars.