Congressional reps meet with Indiana farmers to discuss next farm bill

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS — More than a year into the pandemic, Indiana farmers say they’re still dealing with supply chain issues and rising prices.

This comes as federal lawmakers are collecting input on the next farm bill, which is passed every five years to shape the nation’s agricultural policy.

“Prices have pretty much skyrocketed on fertilizer,” said Phil Ramsey, a director on the American Soybean Alliance Board who grows corn and soybeans in Shelby and Rush counties. “Nitrogen prices, they’re almost double of what they were a year ago.”

“Parts, for instance, on our equipment, machinery — sometimes you have to drive to another state,” said Robert White, who owns a farm in northern Indiana and serves as director of national government relations for the Indiana Farm Bureau.

Ramsey and White attended a discussion on the farm bill Wednesday at the Indiana State Fair with Lieuntenant Governor Suzanne Crouch and Reps. Jim Baird (R-Indiana), Victoria Spartz (R-Indiana) and Greg Pence (R-Indiana).

“We have recognized some of the, maybe, weaknesses in our supply chain, our food supply chain. We are probably going to discuss those and make sure that we can make improvements there and in programs and incentives,” said Rep. Baird, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee.

“As a farmer myself, I have observations how we can do better and some of the problems,” Rep. Spartz said.

“I’m concerned that the inflation could continue to outstrip what prices are going to be like in the fall,” Rep. Pence said.

White said although the farm bill can’t directly address some of the problems created by the pandemic, he hopes it could defray some other expenses in areas like conservation and include policies that increase profit margins.

“There’s a trade portion of the farm bill that we would like to see obviously more exports, which will help move the prices of our commodities up,” White said.

“It’s just important that we can get a good farm bill put together, and there is a lot of pieces to it that’s important to the whole economy, not just the farmers,” Ramsey said.

The farm bill also funds many other programs, including SNAP benefits.

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