Leaders from several South Dakota ag commodity groups met with U.S. Sen. John Thune and his senior advisor Lynn Tjeerdsma in Sioux Falls on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill.
“We want to find out what people want to see in the bill – what’s working and what’s not,” said Thune.
The biggest thing that is working for farmers today is Federal Crop Insurance, which is the top priority for the South Dakota Corn Growers among other groups.
“Crop insurance is our No. 1 issue,” echoed South Dakota Corn Growers Association President, Gary Duffy. “Crop insurance is an efficient and effective program for all producers and farmers do pay premiums on it.”
The second term senator recognized the importance and success of the crop insurance program but admitted that challenges do lie ahead.
“Unfortunately, the guys in cotton and rice country have a different opinion on crop insurance and direct payments,” he said.
Thune also discussed the common public misconceptions of the Farm Bill as three-fourths of its funding goes towards food assistance programs like SNAP.
“A dime out of every dollar from the ag budget goes to production agriculture,” Thune said. “People assume most of the money goes to farmers.”
Duffy agreed that the public’s perception of farm programs can be easily misunderstood.
“When agriculture is thriving, consumers tend be negative towards farm programs,” said Duffy. “People need to understand that these programs are in place for the rough times to not only protect our food producers, but our food supply as well.”