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Farmers Stop Harvesting to Lobby for Farm Bill

September 12, 2012
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
farm bill now crowd
Crowd shot at #farmbillnow rally.  

Hundreds gather in support of passing the farm bill now, before the current bill expires on Sept. 30.

If legislators didn’t think their constituents cared about the farm bill before, they know now. Hundreds of farmers, legislative representatives and agricultural leaders gathered today in Washington D.C. to encourage Congress to pass a new, comprehensive, five-year farm bill before current farm programs expire at the end of September.

Listen to this special AgWeb Radio report with Pam Fretwell:

Around 90 different agricultural groups were represented at the rally.

Bing Von Bergen, a Montana farmer and first vice president for the National Association of Wheat Growers, addressed the crowd, highlight that the farm bill is also a trade bill.

"It includes important programs that support agricultural trade. That trade will bring $137 billion into the United States economy this year. It is imperative that we get this Farm Bill passed this year."

National Milk Producers Federation First Vice Chairman Ken Nobis, a Michigan dairy farmer, told those assembled that politics shouldn’t stand in the way of helping America’s farmers.

"Dairy farmers have worked with Democrats and Republicans, in the Senate and the House, to create a farm bill that saves taxpayers money, and at the same time offers dairy producers a more effective safety net when times are tough," Nobis says. "It would be a tragic mistake, after this bill has already passed the Senate, and the House Agriculture Committee, to let it wither and die on the political vine, rather than make the necessary effort to get it passed in the coming weeks." (Read more about NMPF's view on the farm bill.)

Joe Anderson, President of the Idaho Grain Producers Association, represented farmers from his area. He provides a first-hand account from the rally:


National Association of Conservation Districts President Gene Schmidt was a speaker at today’s rally says the 2012 farm bill contains a strong Conservation Title. "It streamlines and consolidates programs for increased efficiency and ease-of-use for producers. At the same time, it maintains critical funding and the intent of the conservation programs needed to implement conservation where it counts and preserve our natural resources for the future."

In addition, Schmidt says, the farm bill is a jobs bill. "Failure to pass a Farm Bill before the current bill expires would send uncertainty through a sector critical to our economic recovery."

Another speaker at the event was Garry Niemeyer, an Illinois farmer who serves as president the National Corn Growers Association. "I got off my combine so I could come tell Congress to do their job. We need a farm bill, now."

Neimeyer says one out of every 12 people has a job related back to farming, making this legislation important to the vast majority of people living in the U.S.

Pam Fretwell spoke with Niemeyer after the rally:

Tweets from the Rally

Below are some of the top tweets and photos sent out during today’s rally:

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