House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson have released a discussion draft of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act or FARRM. The bipartisan bill saves billions of taxpayer dollars, reduces the nation’s deficit and repeals outdated policies while reforming, streamlining and consolidating others. Chairman Lucas says the bill is the product of a two-year process that examined every policy under the committee’s jurisdiction. He calls it reform-minded, fiscally responsible policy that is equitable for farmers and ranchers in all regions.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the most troubling thing about the House farm bill plan is the large amount of cuts…
“The level of cuts here are disproportionately very large. Agriculture is a very small part of the entire budget. The level of these cuts is many times larger than our proportionate share of the total budget.”
Important Piece of Gestation Stall Debate Lost
When it comes to the conversation surrounding the use of gestation stalls for pregnant sows – there’s an important piece that has been left out. That’s according to Veterinarian Steve Dritz and Research and Extension Livestock Specialist Joel DeRouchey – both of Kansas State University – who say it’s important not to forget the reason producers implemented swine gestation stalls in the first place; a gestation stall ensures a sow is fed to meet her individual nutritional needs. When in group pens – some sows eat more than they should – while others eat less than they need. Gestation stalls also protect the pregnant sows – as they can be aggressive and physically harm one another. DeRouchey notes those working with the animals love them and want them to do as well as possible.
Labor One of the Biggest Challenges in Farming Today
Lynn Chappel raises peaches in, South Carolina and is current president of the South Carolina Peach Council. On her own farm, and with other large fruit operations in the state, Chappel says that labor is by far the biggest challenge, as well as expense:
“Most of the commercial growers are with H2A labor, which is government guest worker program with the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour division. Everyone is legal, but we pay for their way to and from Mexico, we provide housing, we pay transportation to the grocery store, etc. Each year the wage rate goes up 5%. As the years go by it becomes a very expensive program, but on the other hand if INS comes to the farm, everyone is legal so we have no problems.”
Availability of labor continues to be one of the biggest challenges in farming today.