The U.S. House Agriculture committee held a hearing today on the 2012 farm bill at the Iowa State Fair. Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines, is on the ag committee and says it’s important to begin work on the issue early as there are a lot of issues involved.
Boswell says the cost of putting in a crop and processing the crop now is “so big” and he says things are going to streamlined with the deficits the federal government faces. Congressman Tom Latham, a Republican from Ames, is not on the ag committee, but did speak at the hearing.
Latham says it’s important to get working on the bill early because there are “tremendous challenges” ahead. He says it really should be called a food or feeding bill instead of a farm bill as a majority of the money goes to food programs. Latham is on the appropriations committee that will deal with the funding for the bill.
“The 900 pound gorilla certainly is going to be the budget deficit, and what funds are going to be available for us to write the next farm bill,” Latham says. Several farmers submitted written comments and some spoke at the hearing, including Varel Bailey of Anita.
Bailey said, “We have a loss of agricultural land, we have a need for technology for land reclamation and improvement.” He says there are over 30-million acres in the conservation reserve and other government programs, and he is not sure if they are fully utilizing the land they way we should be. Bailey also told the committee there needs to be more localized research done.
Bailey says globalization has put every farm in competition with other farms and he says the research that’s done in other parts of the world doesn’t always do any good for him on his farm. Richard Bayliss is a corn and soybean producer from Ottumwa in southern Iowa. He farms with his wife and two sons and says he’s worried about getting younger people into farming.
“While United States farmers continue to feed the world, we see man young and beginning farmers who want to enter this challenging and very rewarding profession,” Baylis says, “investing in farmland and machinery, maintenance costs on both of these and insurance to protect against losses, presents a major obstacle to established farmers, for those just beginning those things can be more than daunting.”
Iowa Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Kiron, is on the House Ag Committee andwas also at the hearing.