|Sharp speaks on 2014 Farm Bill|
|Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Farm Editor|
|Tuesday, 25 March 2014 09:36|
Despite the passage of the Farm Bill, there is still many in the agricultural community who have not yet discovered what all is or is not included.
Adam Sharp, vice president for public policy of the Ohio Farm Bureau on Thursday morning provided some details of the Agricultural Act of 2014, the farm bill's official title. He was the featured speaker at the March Ag Breakfast Forum held at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation east of Haskins.
Sharp first made sure those in attendance were aware of many of the various cuts in payments to growers tin the latest bill. He also noted that any payments past and future made to the farmers through the act is not just for them and their families.
"Farmers are paid for the public good - To keep things stable," Sharp said.
He said the food chain needs stability and security at every juncture. He also noted the need to protect the waterways, the air and the soil, "again for the public good."
He added that one in seven jobs in Ohio is linked to the food chain. Despite that fact, he said the amount of money for commodities (such as the grain areas) is "just a rounding error when it comes to the entire farm bill."
Sharp either reminded or informed those in attendance (depending on their level of knowledge) that the bulk of the farm bill (80 percent) is focused on the SNAP program. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is the new moniker for what most people continue to call food stamps. It also includes school lunches and the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program.
He also noted that much of what is "budgeted" for farmers (growers) is not always spent.
"Budgeted does not mean spent. We have often not spent what was allocated," Sharp stated, noting, "The farm bill is a big deal for our state."
He shared statistics that Ohio has 75,462 farms, the seventh most in the nation according to the last statistical data available. Also the vast majority are still family-owned farms. He also later shared that about 30 percent of the farms produce 60 to 80 percent of the product.
Among the $23 billion cut from this bill compared to previous bills, "direct payments" to growers was among the most significant cuts. The direct payments were comparatively small payments which were made to farmers as an ongoing support. Those have now been replaced with "as needed" payments when there are crop failures or other unusual circumstances such as a market collapse.
Sharp said he is also "very optimistic" about the new dairy program which is part of the bill.
He explained the new provisions allows dairy farmers to buy in similar to a crop insurance with one provision being that overflow milk will not go directly to food banks or other similar charitable causes.
Regarding crop insurance, Sharp considered it a positive that from 1988 to 2012, statistics show the number of farmers participating in crop insurance plans has risen from 25 percent to 85 percent in that time span.
He explained that the insurance covers things not in the control of the grower such as the weather and the markets.
"There is risk, the insurance does not guarantee profit nor does it guarantee you will stay in business."
Sharp noted the ongoing progress in technology which improves sales on the markets as well as proper nutrient placement in the fields.
He noted the need for a closer look at agriculture labor and the laws which regulate that industry, noting, "You can either import labor or you can import food."
He also recommended an upcoming movie about young farmers called "Farmland."
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