For the Farm Bill, Washington needs to listen to Iowa

I always look forward to the Iowa State Fair as an opportunity to celebrate the role Iowa plays in providing the world’s food, feed, fiber and fuel.

As general manager of one of Iowa’s agricultural cooperatives, NEW Cooperative headquartered in Fort Dodge, my favorite fair attractions tend to be of the agricultural variety, but it’s not lost on me that fair week was also a hotbed of political activity.

I believe it is incumbent upon those who campaigned on these historic heartland fairgrounds to listen to us Iowans — farmers, businesspeople, local leaders and ag educators — to learn about our significant contribution to a stable and secure global food supply, and the support we need to sustain our efforts.

Our state is blessed with some of the most fertile soil on Earth. We have developed a sophisticated infrastructure that includes some of our nation’s most robust cooperatives, and supports storage, transport, and distribution of our crops.

Iowa also boasts a world-class agricultural research and development sector that is helping us lead the world in advanced farming techniques that enhance both productivity and sustainability.

We also know that a stable, sustainable food supply plays a crucial role in ensuring our national security – from building successful, enduring international relationships to nurturing domestic economic stability. Those of us in the agriculture sector don’t emphasize that enough when talking with our elected officials about the importance of the work we do. Let’s remedy that.

This year, NEW Cooperative is celebrating its 50th anniversary and we are proud to have been part of the fabric of life in western Iowa and beyond for so long, empowering farmers and, by extension, their communities, through economies of scale, stronger bargaining positions, and support that only cooperatives intimately familiar with their producers can provide. We are by farmers, of farmers, and for farmers.

This year, Congress will be writing a new federal Farm Bill. This critical piece of legislation, originally passed during the Great Depression in 1933, has since provided programs and investment in rural communities to ensure a stable farm economy. The Farm Bill is critically important to rural communities across our state and nation.

As an owner of Land O’Lakes, Inc., we are part of a broader family of cooperatives who serve as advocates for the farmers who have helped Iowa lead the nation in corn and hog production and who have pushed us to the top tier of exporters of agricultural goods (estimated at more than $10 billion). Together, we are looking to let those writing the Farm Bill know what we need to stay strong, including:

• A commitment to federal policies that promote a competitive agriculture sector, healthy rural communities and support that allows farmers to remain productive and profitable while employing sustainable practices.

• A commitment to providing predictability by ensuring there are no lapses in funding or authorities for Farm Bill programs, while funding improvements to Farm Bill programs.

• A commitment to advancing policies that are voluntary and incentive-based for growers.

• A commitment to keeping critical domestic and international nutrition programs in the Farm Bill.

The agriculture sector needs to make sure our voices are heard in Washington. Our future, and the future of billions of others, depends on it.

Dan Dix is the general manager of NEW Cooperative, a 12,000 member-owned farmer cooperative with 80 operating locations across the state of Iowa.


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