ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Farm bill priorities: Prep for disease outbreaks, work together and 'do no harm' to crop insurance

The U.S. needs to prepare for livestock disease threats, such as hoof and mouth disease and African swine fever, livestock group representatives said. The discussion came on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, at Farmfest near Morgan, Minnesota, with a panel of seven people representing different segments of agriculture sharing their views on the farm bill.

farmfest-farmbill
From left, Scott VanderWal, vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Rob Larew, vice president of the National Farmers Union and Don Schiefelbein, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, participate in a farm bill discussion on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, at Farmfest near Morgan, Minnesota.
Jeff Beach / Agweek
We are part of The Trust Project.

MORGAN, Minn. — Prepare for potential livestock disease outbreaks, work together and don’t mess up crop insurance. Those were three of the themes that emerged from a panel discussion on the farm bill.

The discussion came on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at Farmfest near Morgan, Minnesota, with a panel of seven people representing different segments of agriculture sharing their views on the farm bill.

The farm bill is a major piece of ag and nutrition legislation that is due to be renewed in 2023, and discussions in Congress already have begun.

The U.S. needs to prepare for livestock disease threats, such as hoof and mouth disease and African swine fever, livestock group representatives said.

Terry Wolters of Pipestone, Minnesota, and past president of the National Pork Producers Association, said his group typically doesn’t ask for much out of the farm bill but money for testing labs, vaccines and insurance in the case of a catastrophic loss because of an outbreak should be included in the bill.

ADVERTISEMENT

African swine fever was found last year in the Dominican Republic and an outbreak in the U.S. could cripple foreign trade.

“30% of our production is being traded and we can’t lose that,” Wolters said. “If we have an ASF outbreak in the mainland U.S., we’ll be 30% overbuilt tomorrow.”

Foot and mouth disease could affect beef or swine producers.

Don Schiefelbein, a Kimball, Minnesota, beef producer and president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said his group generally wants government to stay out of the way, but mitigating disaster risk is where it can be useful.

“If we don’t have our act together, if we don’t have disease management lined out, this is what we do step one, this is what we do step two, things could go quite awry should a disease outbreak occur.”

Schiefelbein said his group’s second priority was the Livestock Risk Protection, which provides some insurance for producers in the event of a major drop in the market, but he said it’s important to keep the program flexible and available to all producers.

A livestock disease outbreak also would have immediate and serious consequences for the corn and soybean producers that provide feed for cattle and hogs.

“I think my friends up here would support the fact that the livestock industry is a pretty good supporter of the grain industry and if we don’t work together, we don’t have anything,” Wolters said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Schiefelbein echoed that a farm bill needs to work for all of agriculture, producers big and small, and create a situation where there are “winners and losers” in the farm bill.

One program that has been a winner in the eyes of the panelists is the federal subsidized crop insurance program.

George Goblish, of Vesta, Minnesota, a board member for the American Soybean Association, said he has used crop insurance the last two years and might again this year.

One thing he said he doesn’t want to see is tying incentives for conservation practices and climate smart farming to the crop insurance program.

Scott VanderWal, a South Dakota farmer who is vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said tying conservation to crop insurance would discourage some farmers from buying crop insurance.

“The more people that use crop insurance the better off it is because you’ve got more skin in the game,” VanderWal said.

On conservation practices, VanderWal said “We support voluntary market-based programs,” with an extra emphasis on “voluntary.”

VanderWal said in 2019 his farm was not able to plant half the acres. “The prevented planting insurance literally kept us in business.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“The bumper sticker message on crop insurance is ‘Do no harm,’” VanderWal said.

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
What to read next