Getting the 2018 farm bill passed before the November election is critical in case the House flips to Democratic control, stresses Bob Redding, president of the Redding Firm in Washington, D.C.
Speaking at the 20th annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Miramar Beach, Fla., July 21, Redding, a lobbyist who represents the Georgia Peanut Commission and other farm groups, stressed the importance for the peanut industry to remain unified as the farm bill moves through conference and to final passage and law.
Redding noted that the peanut industry did well in the 2002, 20008 and 2014 farm bills because of unity among peanut shellers, peanut growers and peanut buying points. He said the industry has also been unified as the 2018 farm bill is drafted, which is an important factor for success for peanut provisions of the bill.
“We stuck together. Pre-2002 farm bill, we did not stick together. We fought. And there were winners and losers,” Redding said.
For the 2018 farm bill, Redding said the industry is unified. The Redding Firm surveyed peanut shellers, peanut growers and peanut buying points. All sectors agreed on the need for a $535 per ton reference price, a $355 per ton marketing loan, a separate peanut payment limit, and storage and handling provisions.
“All four of those critical provisions are included in the House and Senate bills,” Redding said.
Redding also emphasized the continued importance of peanut industry unity for future farm bills. “If you think in terms, ‘We did better than you, we want to do better than you, we want to beat you,’ then we all lose. If this is about money and this is about business, you want to hold these groups together. That’s the most important thing going forward. Get this bill in the bank; get it done,” Redding stressed.
“But if you want to do it again, if you’re interested in farming five years from now, and these programs matter to you, we want to stay unified,” he said.
As the 2018 farm bill moves to final passage, Redding said maintaining the $535 per ton reference is critical. He said members of Congress have been assured that this amount is not inflated, is reasonable and can be justified.
The peanut industry still faces obstacles as the farm bill moves to final passage. Redding said a big challenge is an amendment offered by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) that tightens up the actively engaged definition.
“We had this problem in the House and Senate bills last time, and we were able to fix it. It’s in the Senate bill, and it is accepted by Senate leadership. It’s part of the Senate package,” Redding said. “It’s very bad, so we want to get it out of there. The goal of Southern commodities is to kill the actively engaged language.”