Farm Bill Offers Glimmer of Hope for the New Year


BY Val Wagner, KTIC (NE)

January 9, 2019


Coming off one of the worst years that weíve ever had, knowing that the farm bill had been passed by the end of December was a relief that we werenít expecting. Just before Christmas, we were still in the process of harvest, for a crop that we werenít sure was worth the trip up and down the field. Dealing with natural disasters interfering with our progress is one thing Ė itís another when itís man-made interruptions that also impact our family farms.


What do I see as promising in the new farm bill? The opportunities for growth, trade and individualization within our farming businesses. I have four boys who are growing up before my eyes. They each have their own personalities, hopes, dreams and ideas about what their future may look like and now I can actually see some of that taking shape. I see potential and opportunity. Hemp? Hops? Barley? Vegetables? Some of the ideas that they have now look like they could become realities Ė with the ability to insure some of those crops that werenít insurable before.


My community is excited for the potential of being able to amp up some of our local markets. We have a neighbor who raises hydroponic lettuce. For rural North Dakota, thatís huge. We can have local lettuce year-round. Itís an opportunity that, if replicated, can open many doors. But that canít be done without support.


After the year we had in 2018, itís difficult to want to encourage my children to continue the farming legacy we have worked generations to build. The hard work and long hours are difficult to justify when you miss out on big moments and have to defend your way of life to those who barely appreciate what you do, let alone understand it. And yet, the passing of this farm bill Ė following a year of perfect storms, during which our farms were hit from all sides by bad weather, tariffs, trade uncertainty, regulations, volatile markets and declining prices Ė gave me a glimmer of hope. Two sides of a very different coin were able to come together and agree that agriculture Ė and food Ė was important enough to not play games any longer. Perhaps thatís the lesson for all of us. Our crops will be eligible for insurance. In fact, more crops than ever before will be eligible for insurance. If we have another year like 2018, it will be a major determining factor in whether or not our family is able to continue farming for another year.


In a perfect world...