The two main organizations that oppose agriculture’s interests in the upcoming Farm Bill are the Environmental Working Group and the Heritage Foundation. Scott Faber with EWG and Daren Bakst with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that promotes free enterprise, spoke at a Farm Foundation forum recently in Washington. Both groups are vocal opponents of a number of programs strongly supported by Agriculture groups.
Daren Bakst, agricultural research policy fellow with the Heritage Foundation, says the next Farm Bill should consider what he calls “excessive federal intervention in agricultural policy” and should “move towards a properly focused safety net that protects farmers from major crop losses only.” Bakst said the new farm bill needs to reduce government intervention in agriculture.1
Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, a frequent critic of U.S. Ag policy, said the next farm bill needs to recognize that “consumers, as well as the farmers, are the customers.”2
Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives said Trump’s election, in which strong support from rural America played a big role, showed that “farmers and ranchers and people in rural America, believe me, feel like they’ve been under attack” (by over regulation).3 Conner added that it is very clear that President-elect Trump understands the impact of the rural vote on the outcome of his election. Rural America can count on the next Farm Bill “be(ing) a user-friendly, farmer-friendly Farm Bill.”
WOTUS & The EPA
The regulatory attacks Conner mentioned range from the “heavy hand of (the Environmental Protection Agency) to unfounded criticism of consumers” with little knowledge of how their food is produced.
For instance, Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, as it’s commonly known, would redefine how “waters of the U.S.” are subject to federal regulations under the Clean Water Act. A wide range of farm groups oppose it.
What Does This Mean to Your Organization?
Opponents to agricultural interests are organizing for the upcoming Farm Bill. Your organization should also be preparing for Farm Bill discussions. Do you have your strategy ready? Do you have a consistent, unified message? Are you aligned with other organizations with similar needs and goals?