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Farm Bill and war in Ukraine are hot topics at the Midwest Agriculture Summit

The Midwest Agriculture Summit was held in Fargo where attendees listened to policy makers speak on current agriculture issues and challenges.

the Midwest Agriculture Summit
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, second from left, speaks on the importance of bipartisan support for the 2023 Farm Bill at the Midwest Agriculture Summit. Photo taken June 28, 2022 in Fargo, North Dakota. To Klobuchar's left is moderator Howard Olson. To the right are Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn.
Emily Beal / Agweek
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FARGO, N.D. — The Farm Bill and the war in Ukraine's impact on agriculture were hot topics of conversation for those who attended the Midwest Agriculture Summit held in Fargo on Tuesday, June 28.

Policy makers stressed the importance of the Farm Bill being a bipartisan effort, stating that leaning across the aisle is imperative for the nation to continue to have a thriving agricultural industry.

“A good farm policy benefits every American every day,” Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said. “We have such amazing agriculture and such amazing farmers and ranchers, but we can’t take it for granted. We have got to continue to support what they’re out doing everyday.”

Hoeven believes that risk management tools — crop insurance in particular — will be of the utmost importance in the upcoming Farm Bill. He also wishes to see conservation programs that do not restrict farmers and ranchers.

“Don’t tie our farmers and ranchers up in a bunch of red tape. They are on the land, they know better than anybody how to do it,” he said.

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The Farm Bill, which is passed every five years, was last passed in 2018. The new Farm Bill will take collaboration between parties to come to fruition and be passed in 2023.

“It isn’t easy,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said. “I think everyone has realized that we have to do this together because right off the bat we lose certain votes, even in rural America by certain senators who won’t vote for it.”

Robert Bonnie
Robert Bonnie, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary, was the keynote speaker at the Midwest Agriculture Summit. Photo taken June 28, 2022 in Fargo, North Dakota.
Emily Beal / Agweek

Robert Bonnie, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary, also spoke at the Midwest Agriculture Summit, focusing on the war in Ukraine and how it is bringing agriculture to center stage.

“We all see the news in Ukraine, it’s horrible … If there’s a silver lining for folks in agriculture, it's that it has brought agricultural issues to the forefront,” Bonnie said. “There’s an appreciation for what we have here domestically in terms of agricultural production. Hopefully that builds in the Farm Bill and other issues where people support agriculture and create more support for everything we do in agriculture.”

The war in Ukraine has caused many farmers' and ranchers' inputs to sky rocket, such as fertilizer. The USDA is looking into creative ways to help alleviate some of those additional costs and burdens. According to Bonnie, $500 million has been set aside to help discover ways to produce more fertilizer in the United States.

Klobuchar also recognized that people are hurting now due to costs being driven up and the world economy being impacted, but believes that these struggles will help in the U.S.’s long term trading relationships with its allies.

The panelists also discussed the national security that the agricultural industry brings to the country, something that has also been brought to light due to the volatile times in Ukraine.

“Think about it. If we had to depend on some other country for our food supply, that would be a huge problem and a huge risk,” Hoeven said. “It’s not just the importance of eating every day and having that high quality food … but it’s the national security aspects which we’re seeing right now how important that is.”

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