What is in this article?:
- Farm program sign-up amid sequestration uncertainty
- Waterway infrastructure, crop insurance
- "There’s a lot of uncertainty, right now. The sequestration is looming and, while they aren’t sure, a lot of our delegation (to Congress) believes sequestration will take place. They’re all trying to position themselves in a way to do what’s best for agriculture in Arkansas." -- Randy Veach, east Arkansas producer and president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau.
Waterway infrastructure, crop insurance
Are you backing the big move to crop insurance?
“We’re supportive of a safety net for all commodities in all regions of the nation. Crop insurance is a valuable tool for a lot of regions.
“The problem arises where we mitigate risk with irrigation in the South. Yields aren’t that big of an issue here like they are in the Midwest and other areas.
“So, we need a choice. And that choice, instead of yield protection, needs to be price protection. We need a farm bill that gives us the opportunity to choose where to go for a safety net.”
“We want all our crops to have a safety net. And crop insurance provides that for much of the country – even for some of the producers in the South. But for a large portion of them, especially in certain commodities, (crop insurance) doesn’t provide that safety net.”
On aquaculture inspections and trade…
“There were some amendments in the (House Agriculture Committee) that would have hurt aquaculture and catfish. Our delegation worked hard to keep those off” the House version of the new farm bill. Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford “did a good job with that.”
“We think it’s possible that some of those (amendments) will come back up. There will probably be a lot more discussion about dairy again, too.
“On the Senate side, both Arkansas senators will be working on the (new farm) bill, trying to provide the same (protections) for catfish producers in the South.”
More on inspections here
On the current session of the Arkansas legislature…
“We had a really severe drought in the state – especially in areas with a lot of ranchers. The big issue we’re working on there is an exemption on state sales tax on energy-input items for poultry houses, aquaculture, and horticulture facilities. That is looking pretty good with 83 sponsors on a bill.
“That would provide ranchers some help. The drought really took a toll on a lot of agriculture but it really hit the livestock sector extremely hard.
“We’re also dealing with continued funding. We want to keep funding in place for the University of Arkansas and research.”
Anything on the Hill regarding Mississippi River navigation?
“Right now the river is back up and commerce is flowing. That means (navigation) issues tend to move to the back burner.
“I farm right alongside the Mississippi River in Mississippi County. We ship all our grain out on the river and fertilizer and input items come in on barges to the river ports. When you can’t get those on barges, the cost rises.
“Our country must address the needs of our inland waterways and our ports. We’re getting behind the rest of the world on our waterways. We’re behind on our ports. We can’t take the Post Panamax ships that need deep ports. We must get infrastructure in place and fixed.
“We must spend the money to keep our rivers open and flowing for commerce. If we don’t, it will become a huge problem. I once heard that if the Mississippi River shuts down, 20,000 jobs will be lost. Not only that, but think of the increased cost to those who would be unable to use the river for shipping.”
On labor and immigration…
“We need a workable guest worker program that will provide migrant workers at certain times of the year. E-Verify can be problematic although it might be constructed in a way where it provides some benefit.”
More on agriculture labor here.
“We don’t need to put the employer in the position of being the police.
“Immigration will continue to be a big topic. We’ll do everything we can to ensure the producers have the migrant work power they need to provide the food, fiber and shelter that everyone expects.”