Nebraska Farm Bureau young farmers and ranchers urge action on Farm Bill, Prop 12, EPA herbicide strategy
LINCOLN – The passage of the next Farm Bill is imperative to the continued success of agriculture and is top of mind for producers in Nebraska and across the country. That was one of the key messages Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Committee members shared with the Nebraska congressional delegation during their annual fly-in to Washington, D.C.
While the Farm Bill often finds itself entangled in political debate, it provides policymakers an opportunity to address issues facing the agri-food value chain. YF&R committee members urged the delegation to protect federal crop insurance without any tie to climate focused practices in the next Farm Bill.
“Protecting federal crop insurance means farmers like my husband and I have a protection plan when disaster strikes,” said YF&R committee member Jill England, a corn and soybean farmer from Hall County. “We are incredibly diligent with how we steward our land and resources to ensure they last for generations to come. Tying federal crop insurance to climate focused practices limits our ability to have a strong safety net and do what is best for the future of our operation.”
The consequences of California’s Proposition 12 also commanded the attention of producers around the country. YF&R members thanked the entire Nebraska congressional delegation for their continued support of the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act to rectify the issues caused by Prop 12.
“States and local governments should not be able to dictate production or manufacturing standards of agricultural products or any products for that matter. What a majority of people in one state want should not interfere with the entire nation’s production standards,” said Jaden Melnick, a YF&R committee member from Adams County. “We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not overturn this decision but have hope that we can fix this legislatively. We must ensure this never happens again.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently changing the process they use to label pesticides as a result of a lawsuit for not complying with the Endangered Species Act. These new labels would require herbicide users to attain “points” by adopting certain runoff reduction practices to use most herbicides. Additionally, it would drastically narrow the drift buffers for ariel and ground application of herbicides and impose new subsurface drainage rules, requiring the channeling of water into retention ponds or saturation buffer zones. These new regulations will make herbicide usage in any capacity near impossible for farmers, ultimately reducing yields and limiting farmers ability to do what is best for their operations.
“It is imperative that EPA edits this proposed rule and finds an alternative to meet the Endangered Species Act obligations. These new labels effectively eliminate producers’ ability to use herbicides which allow us to better use our available water and soil resources to maintain the highest sustainability standards,” said Matthew Erickson, YF&R member. Erickson is a row crop farmer in Johnson County and owns a custom spraying operation with his family.
The YF&R committee connects young farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska to develop their leadership skills, engage with their peers, advocate for policy, and serve as the next generation of agricultural leaders.
“It is crucial for our senators and congressmen to hear from producers directly,” said David Schuler, YF&R committee member and cattle rancher from Morrill County. “Giving young producers a seat at the table not only ensures the next generation is well equipped to advocate for the future of agriculture, but also reminds policymakers that agriculture is constantly growing and changing.”
In addition to meeting with all five of Nebraska’s congressional delegates, the group also met with officials from the Environmental Defense Fund, Animal Ag Alliance, the Senate Agriculture Committee, the EPA, and the USDA Chief Economist’s office.
YF&R committee members that participated in the visit to Washington, D.C. included:
Jaden Melnick, Adams/Webster County Farm Bureau
Jill England, Hall County Farm Bureau
David and Christy Schuler, Morrill County Farm Bureau
Matthew Erickson, Johnson County Farm Bureau
The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service, and advocacy efforts. More than 55,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit www.nefb.org.