A Tama County farmer testified today before the Senate Agriculture Committee on the implementation of the Farm Bill.
Clay Mitchell is a fifth generation corn and soybean farmer who lives near Buckingham. “The implementation of the Farm Bill is providing critical stability to the policies that affect my operating and investment decisions,” Mitchell told the committee. “It also provides critical stability to conservation incentives that tip operations like mine into sustainable systems.”
Mitchell says he began farming in 2000 when corn prices were at $2 a bushel and non-land costs for farming were $200 an acre. He says the changes since that time show the need for the Farm Bill programs. “During the subsequent commodity bubble, we had a 29-month run — from 2011 to 2013 — when corn prices averaged $6.50 a bushel, and non-land farming costs were 5 to 600 dollars per acre. Today we have corn prices in the mid-three dollars per bushel. We have 2007 corn prices, but 2013 costs,” according to Mitchell. “I concur with economists who predict that this year we will have the largest drop in farm income since the great depression.”
Mitchell went on to talk about the importance of crop insurance to his operation. “In the absence of crop insurance my cropping decisions would be so dominated by the chance of crop failure, however rare, that I would be forced to trim my crop investment to suboptimal levels. It is more than a smoothing tool, it is an enabler for optimal cropping,” Mitchell says.
He also credited lawmakers for creating a balance between protecting wetlands and improving farmland in the Farm Bill. “If the wishes of Congress are followed, we expect our grain yields and resource use efficiency to improve 30-percent — and at the same time, wetlands that are outside of cropping areas can flourish with diverse native species,” according to Mitchell.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, introduced Mitchell before his testimony.