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Ohio farmers meet with lawmakers in Washington

As appeared in the Dayton Daily News


Ohio farmers and agriculture leaders from the state sent a clear message to Congress on their annual lobbying trip to Washington: They want to see a farm bill approved soon.

About 100 Ohio Farm Bureau members took part in the meetings this past week with members of Ohio’s delegation that included a session with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, who told the group that he wants the House to get a farm bill done this year.

The Lima News reports that Boehner wouldn’t give any hints about what would be included in the legislation that sets policy for farm subsidies, rural development and food stamps. Food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, make up roughly 80 percent of the legislation’s cost.

“The really big fight will be over how big of changes we’re going to make on the SNAP program,” said Boehner, a Republican from southwestern Ohio.

Last year, the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee passed farm bills, but the legislation died at the end of last year’s congressional session after Republican House leadership said they did not have the votes to pass it. The farm law expired in September and was extended until September 2013.

Farmers are eager for it to move to ahead so they can have an idea what safety net needs such as crop insurance will be included.

“We need to save whatever we can of the risk management through crop insurance,” said Rick Tangeman, president of the Auglaize County Farm Bureau.

Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman Joe Cornely said farmers need to be able to plan ahead and the lack of a farm bill is getting in the way of that.

“They won’t invest until they know the rules of the game,” he said. “Farmers are smart people. They can figure out how to operate within the rules.”

U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, a Republican who represents northwestern Ohio, said Congress must now start over on the new farm bill. “That’s not real good news, but that’s where it’s at,” he told the group.

Among other topics brought up during the meetings were water quality regulations and the agricultural guest worker program that’s part of the debate over immigration reform,

“Migrant workers are important to farming across the nation,” said Troy Ernest, Allen County Farm Bureau president. “We need to protect our borders, but we also need a legal method to bring seasonal workers in and out of our state.”

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