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Wareham: The Next Farm Bill Needs Your Attention

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Farm Bill Senate ag committee


Agriculture leaders in Congress are working on the 2018 farm bill. Major issues that could affect the economic health of agriculture over the next decade need adequate attention.

Organizations like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), State Farm Bureaus and Farm Credit Council have been working for some time to preserve and protect programs like crop insurance and stimulate awareness of our growing need to protect global commerce and provide equal access to technology.

Maintaining a resurgent global trade environment is vital for all of agriculture, and more specifically to this readership, the preservation of current and potential beef export markets. A substantial trade barrier caused by preventable events, such as a major disease outbreak, warrant pre-emptive measures. At present, NCBA is insistent upon strategies to be included in the next farm bill to help mitigate the devastating effects of a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. Interruptions to global beef commerce fueled by confirmed cases could be catastrophic. NCBA estimates more than $6 billion in potential losses within the first year.

NCBA is also focused intently on strategies for rebuilding an obsolete supply and distribution system to meet the required level of response needed if an outbreak were to occur. Waiting for access to an already limited world supply of FMD vaccine is not a viable option. The substantial economic hardship caused by limited access to ready-to-administer FMD doses on U.S. farmers, ranchers and consumers would far outweigh the funding needed to modernize our national vaccine bank and outbreak response infrastructure.

Early language of this next bill is also aiming to make greater investments in our nation’s rural technological infrastructure. One example is by providing fair and seamless access to broadband for rural residents and specifically farm and ranch families.

Broadband has been considered a normal amenity within most non-rural households in this country for some time. However, a substantial portion of our nation’s rural families still lack advantageous access to quality sources. My home state of Missouri ranks 42nd in the nation with regard to equitable access to broadband service. More than 61% of rural Missouri households lack access to fixed broadband connections.

Providing farm and ranch families quality high-speed internet can super charge their business through the adaptation of previously inaccessible management solutions, technologies and, most importantly, educational resources. The youth of agriculture, need to have the same fair access to technology as their non-rural counterparts.

Take a moment to contact your elected representatives. Let them know it’s time to take the restrictor plate off rural agriculture by investing in common sense disease prevention solutions that safeguard trade. It’s also time to create an infrastructure that will provide frictionless access to quality broadband internet.

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