Farm Bill Update

Shared with permission.

Dear friends of the Center for Rural Affairs,

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jim French. I am a Senior Adviser on the Farm Bill for the Center, and my advocacy work is focused on Kansas. My wife and I are 5th generation farmers and ranchers in Reno County. We have combined agriculture and advocacy for family farms and conservation for almost 40 years.
Currently, the 2018 Farm Bill is being drafted in the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. The good news is that funding for farm and nutrition programs will not face cuts (unless tax reform triggers sequestration); the bad news is that pressure to “tweak” certain commodity programs could cost several additional billions over the next five years. This means that the committees will need to make some tough choices. And if past farm bill negotiations indicate anything, it is that the Conservation Title that is targeted for savings. In fact, conservation programs took a huge hit when the 2014 bill became law. While it would be great if those dollars could be restored, we can ill afford a cut like that again.
We are expecting the farm bill to be voted on in the Ag committees early next year. However, it is important that we communicate with committee members now while the drafting is taking place. Kansas has two legislators on the Agriculture Committees. Sen. Pat Roberts is the chair of the Senate Committee; and Rep. Roger Marshall (R-1) sits on the House committee.
The Center has several priorities for reform in the next farm bill, but at this time a call or written message to Senator Roberts’ and Representative Marshall’s office on fully reauthorizing and funding conservation programs would be really helpful — especially working lands programs: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Security Program (CSP), and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
Some of you are not in Dr. Marshall’s 1st District; but all of you are represented by Sen. Pat Roberts. So all of you could place at least one call or transmit a written message on a their website. Marshall’s e-mail page is located at https://marshall.house.gov/contact, and his DC office number is 202-225-2715.  Senator Roberts’ e-mail page is found at https://www.roberts.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=EmailPat , and his DC office number is 202-224-4774.
The message you give can be short or more detailed. But, it is best to be as direct with your ask as possible. Here is one possible script that could guide your thinking:
My name is ______ , and I am a constituent living in   ______. (If you are a farmer or rancher, or have a vocation closely related to agriculture, mention that as well) I am calling (or writing) to urge you to reauthorize and fully fund the working lands conservation programs CSP, EQIP and ACEP in the 2018 Farm Bill. Conservation programs like these are a win-win for agriculture and the mostly urban public. These voluntary programs help keep water and air clean, build healthy soils, and create habitat for wildlife. They also allow farmers to be more resilient and productive when challenged by pests, plant diseases, and extreme weather. Lessening the impact of challenges like these also saves taxpayer money on crop insurance and revenue payments. Supporting a healthy and resilient agriculture will serve all of us for the long term future. Thank you so much.
Thank you all for considering this request. In this season we reflect on the bounty and gifts that our good earth provides. This is also a good time to remind our legislators of the importance of cherishing and taking care of those gifts which are stewarded by our farmers and ranchers.
With great respect,
Jim French
Senior Advocacy Advisor
Center for Rural Affairs
8016 W Longview Rd
Partridge, KS 6