Missouri Farmers Union President Richard Oswald participated in a briefing last week in Washington, D.C., for members of Congress and staff. Hosted by Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., the briefing focused on the effects of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers flooding. Other panelists representing related government agencies and non-governmental organizations also participated in the briefing.
"Our levee system protected farms in Atchison County, Mo., without incident for more than four decades," Oswald said. "Until this year, only 1993 -- with the highest rainfall levels in 500 years -- stressed levees to the breaking point. All of us who farm in the Missouri Valley hope to see a return to reliably managed, fully funded flood protection."
Panelists made presentations highlighting aspects of the flood and were available for questions after the briefing.
"Flooding in certain areas around the country, especially in parts of Missouri, has had a devastating effect and many are unaware of the magnitude of what is going on," said National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. "This briefing was an opportunity to educate members of Congress and their staff on the situation and how it is impacting agriculture."
A group of Missouri Farmers Union members also took the opportunity to meet with the NFU president to discuss the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill negotiations and highlighted NFU's top priorities to include in the legislation.
"Like everything else in Washington these days, costs will be the primary factor when determining what programs are included in the farm bill and which ones are left out," Johnson said. "That is why it is critical that stakeholders come together to write a comprehensive piece of legislation that is satisfactory to all parties. No one will be able to get everything they want, but if we all work together, we stand a chance of getting what we absolutely need."
Johnson emphasized that safety nets are NFU's top priority and that any farm bill must help protect farmers and ranchers.
"Farming is a very unpredictable industry, with many variables such as weather and commodity prices that are out of the producer's control," Johnson said. "Family farmers and ranchers must have a strong safety net in place to help them get through difficult times. Livestock producers also need assurances in the next farm bill that they will be able to compete in a fair marketplace."
Source: Missouri Farmers Union