Business priorities: Prepare for disease outbreaks, work together and ‘don’t waste’ crop insurance

MORGAN, Minn. – Prepare for outbreaks of animal diseases, work together and do not interfere with crop insurance. Those were the three themes that emerged from the agriculture bill negotiations.

The discussion came on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at Farmfest near Morgan, Minnesota, a group of seven people representing different sectors of agriculture are sharing their thoughts on the farm bill.

The farm bill is the largest piece of food and nutrition legislation to be overhauled in 2023, and discussions in Congress have already begun.

The US should prepare for the threat of livestock diseases, such as foot and mouth disease and African swine fever, representatives of the livestock group said.

Terry Wolters of Pipestone, Minnesota, and former president of the National Pork Producers Association, said his group is not asking for much in the farm bill but for lab testing, vaccinations and insurance in the event of an accident. explosion should be included in the bill.

African swine fever was found last year in the Dominican Republic and its spread to the US could hamper foreign trade.

“30% of what we produce is sold and we can’t lose it,” said Wolters. “If we have an ASF crisis in the US, we will be 30% tomorrow.”

Foot and mouth disease can affect cattle or pig farmers.

Don Schifelbein, of Kimball, Minnesota, a cattle producer and president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said his group often calls for government intervention, but risk reduction is where it can be most effective.

“If we don’t do things together, if we don’t have disease control strategies, this is what we do in the first step, this is what we do in the second step, things can go wrong when an infection occurs.”

Schiefelbein said that the second product of his group was the Insurance of the Injuries, which provides insurance to producers if the market is too low, but he said that it is important that the program is flexible and accessible to all producers.

Animal disease outbreaks can also have dire consequences for corn and soybean farmers who feed their cattle and pigs.

“I think my friends up here would agree that the livestock trade is very important to the grain trade and if we don’t work together, we have nothing,” Wolters said.

Schiefelbein said the farm bill should apply to all farms, producers large and small, creating “winners and losers” in the farm bill.

One program that has been successful in the eyes of the administration is federally subsidized food insurance.

George Goblish, of Vesta, Minnesota, a member of the American Soybean Association, said he has used food insurance the past two years and will again this year.

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

Scott VanderWal, a farmer from South Dakota who is the vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said that linking protection and crop insurance could prevent some farmers from buying crop insurance.

“Most people who use crop insurance are better off because you have more skin in the game,” VanderWal said.

On security, VanderWal said “We support voluntary programs in the market,” with a strong emphasis on “voluntary.”

VanderWal said in 2019 his farm could not plant half an acre. “Forbidden crop insurance kept us in business.”

“The biggest message in crop insurance is ‘Do no harm,'” VanderWal said.