A survey shows farmers want to see the next federal farm bill deal with renewable-energy issues, in addition to traditional concerns like disaster relief and other parts of the agricultural safety net.
Brad Lubben is an Extension Public Policy Specialist who helped survey producers about commodities, conservation, energy, livestock tracking and other topics of interest to farmers. He says they have results from 15-thousand producers across 27 states, to a fundamental question: “What should a farm bill accomplish — what should it be focused on?” He says topics that always come up remain priorities this year for farmers, with one interesting addition.
Issued that have long been argued as goals for a farm bill include supporting the farm sector and the rural economy, a safe and abundant food supply, protecting the nation’s ag resources, providing opportunities for small and beginning farm operations — a number of different categories.
Yet a new one, renewable energy, is the highest priority producers put down right now for the direction of future farm programs. He says agriculture’s faced some challenged from the energy market in recent years, but also sees some promise for its future in that market.
There are energy prices that put pressure on the income of farmers, but there’s also potential new opportunity in the role of ethanol, bio-diesel and other renewable energy opportunities and their role in the future of agriculture. Lubben says that’s not to minimize the other issues that have always been priorities for farmers, though they seem to favor a slightly different approach for safety-net programs like subsidies.