FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 4, 2017
Contact:           Chuck Lippstreu, Byrum & Fisk Communications
 
Agricultural Leaders of Michigan announce Farm Bill priorities ahead of Frankenmuth hearing
Ag leaders thank U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, release new briefing on key Farm Bill issues
 
LANSING – In advance of a U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the next Farm Bill scheduled for Saturday in Frankenmuth, the Agricultural Leaders of Michigan today released a briefing highlighting the importance of the bill for every American and the need for a dependable farm safety net during a significant downturn in the agricultural economy. The coalition recognized U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow for arranging this weekend’s hearing and leading the way on the next Farm Bill.
“The Farm Bill impacts every Michigander every day, and supports our state’s $100 billion agriculture industry that’s responsible for one in four Michigan jobs,” said Dave Armstrong, president and CEO of GreenStone Farm Credit Services. “This critical legislation requires hard work and a bipartisan approach from our Members of Congress, as shown by Senator Stabenow, who led the way to get a bill across the finish line in 2014 and who will play a leading role on the upcoming Farm Bill.”
Hearings on the next Farm Bill are kicking off at an uncertain time in agriculture as producers face lower commodity prices. In February, U.S. Net Farm Income (NFI) for 2017 was forecast down 8.7 percent by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – which would represent the fourth straight annual NFI decline and the lowest NFI in 15 years.
“This is an uncertain time in agriculture, with declining commodity prices and unpredictable export markets, making the strong safety net and a robust crop insurance program included within the Farm Bill more important than ever,” said Jim Zook, executive director of the Michigan Corn Growers Association. “The safety net has an impact on virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture and must remain a cornerstone of the Farm Bill.”
In addition, questions about the future of U.S. market access in North America, Europe and Asia have emerged – a big issue in Michigan, where about one-third of all agricultural products are exported.
“Michigan agriculture has to export what we produce, and at a deeply uncertain time for international trade the Farm Bill is an opportunity to set a positive tone for market access,” said Mary Kelpinski, CEO of the Michigan Pork Producers Association. “Trade isn’t optional for our industry, and we’re counting on everyone working on the Farm Bill in Congress to use this as an opportunity to maintain and expand opportunities to sell Michigan products around the world.”
In the newly-released briefing, ALM identifies the following seven priorities for the next Farm Bill:
ü  Ensuring a Strong, Dependable Farm Safety Net
ü  Maintaining a Dedicated Crop Insurance Program
ü  Modernizing and Streamlining Agricultural Conservation Programs
ü  Investing in Clean Energy Throughout Rural America
ü  Expanding Markets for U.S. Agricultural Products
ü  Providing Dependable Nutrition Assistance for Those in Need
ü  Investing in the Future of Specialty Crop Production Through Research and Collaboration
“In addition to the certainty the Farm Bill provides for Michigan’s farmers and agribusinesses, this important legislation invests in rural economic development, food safety, energy, conservation, nutrition assistance for families, agricultural research and beyond,” said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. “We know that Michigan agriculture needs to be proactive, needs to be part of the conversation, and needs to work closely with leaders like Senator Stabenow who are working hard to craft this important legislation.”
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Agricultural Leaders of Michigan is a coalition of agricultural, commodity and agribusiness leaders committed to promoting Michigan agriculture, participating in the ongoing dialogue about issues affecting our state, and harnessing agriculture’s power and potential to further grow Michigan’s economy. The coalition is made up of GreenStone Farm Credit Services; Michigan Agri-Business Association; Michigan Corn Growers Association; Michigan Milk Producers Association; Michigan Pork Producers Association; Michigan Soybean Association; and Potato Growers of Michigan, Inc. Learn more at www.agleadersmi.com.