On Friday, September 15, 2017, CAWG President Jerry Cooksey, Mark Linnebur, Randy Traxler, and Brad Erker met with US Congressman Ken Buck at his office in Greeley, Colorado. Several items of interest to Colorado wheat farmers were discussed, including the Farm Bill, Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, funding for the Central Great Plains Research Station at Akron, NAFTA, and tax reform. A very good exchange of information was had, and CAWG thanks Congressman Buck for meeting with them.
Farm Bill Discussion of the Farm Bill centered around commodity prices being low and CAWG leaders expressing the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) position that the federal crop insurance program is the most important risk management tool available to farmers. NAWG opposes any cuts to the Farm Bill’s Crop Insurance Title and any efforts to reduce or eliminate the federal cost-share which would make the program more expensive to farmers, causing them to lower their coverage. Buck made the comment that farmers are almost too good at what they do, producing a surplus that can lead to lower prices. CAWG members made several key points:
- Ag producers need to keep up with forecasted needs of the growing population.
- Crop insurance is a critical risk management tool for wheat producers, and like any other important tool on the farm, it needs periodic maintenance and sharpening.
- Food security and land security are a priority which is why we need to protect family farms. This lead into a discussion of the death tax, which Congressman Buck is working to repeal.
MAP and FDM The Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program were also discussed, separate of the Farm Bill. We need to maintain these programs (if not double the funding) due to their good return to federal investment.
Central Great Plains Research Station at Akron Research conducted at Akron is critical for continued progress of wheat production in Colorado and other Great Plains states, so it needs to be protected from budget cuts. There are not very many sites that conduct dryland research like what is done at Akron. There should be consideration of putting Akron under the umbrella of management out of the Fort Collins station, but the Akron site itself and its researchers should remain at Akron where the environment is so much more representative of dryland agriculture.
NAFTA We discussed the North American Free Trade Agreement, and President Trump’s intention to renegotiate it. NAWG’s position is that the U.S. wheat industry welcomes the opportunity for improving the framework for cross border wheat trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, but would strongly oppose changes that might limit the current NAFTA’s benefits for wheat farmers and their customers, particularly in the Mexican food processing industries. Our number one priority in a NAFTA renegotiation is Do No Harm.
Tax reform Congressman Buck favors tax reform, and recognizes the importance of maintaining a balance of spending for vital programs while attempting to reduce the budget deficit. An overarching principle is that groups (ag included) need to be willing to contribute to lower spending in some areas if we are to find ways to reduce the budget deficit.