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Crops Ohio’s Country Journal

From page 1 “As we travel around the country,

one of the huge concerns is regulation. We have been working closely with our partners on the Hill to make sure we can continue to farm with the regula- tory environment,” Hurst said. “This is more than a career for farmers. This is what we’re about. There is a great legacy that we have as farmers. We have a bright future ahead of us, but we do have some challenges.” The industry leaders also discussed

the challenges related to public sentiment toward farmers and ways those in agri- culture can address the gap resulting from the lack of understanding from the general public. “We have to make sure that the gen-

eral public both understands what we are doing and accepts why we do it,” Niemeyer said. “Through our campaigns, we have already shifted to an environ- ment that promotes an open dialogue with those outside of agriculture who de- pend upon us.” For the third consecutive year, Agri-

culture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke at the event.

“The first and most important thing that

we can do this year is to pass a farm bill and pass it now,” Vilsack said. “This job of writing and passing an equitable farm bill is not an easy task, but waiting for 2013 is not going to be any easier. It is incumbent both upon myself and upon you that we send a clear message to our representatives that we must do this now.” And, the attendees at the Commodity

Classic did just that. The four groups is- sued a strong statement on the importance of crafting the farm bill in a timely manner. Here is an excerpt from the joint statement from NCGA, ASA, NAWG and NSP at the Commodity Classic. “As Congress continues work on the

next farm bill, our organizations agree that an affordable crop insurance pro- gram is our No. 1 priority. We also stand ready to work with House and Senate Ag Committee leaders to create farm pro- grams that provide risk-management tools to growers when they are facing a loss beyond their control. “We urge Congress to pass a new farm

bill this year to provide the level of cer- tainty in America that a short-term exten- sion cannot. The nation is currently facing record high federal deficits and this re-

quires difficult decisions. We stand ready to do our part to develop more efficient farm policy that will be responsive to taxpayers and effective in helping farms remain vi- able and productive.” In addition, Vilsack talked about the im-

portance of exports and biofuels to the farm and rural economy. Vilsack also pointed out the increasingly important role of conservation programs in the farm bill, announcing an expansion of the Conserva- tion Reserve Program (CRP). Farmers have the opportunity to enroll a total of 1 million acres of land in a new CRP initiative to pre- serve grasslands and wetlands. The goal of the new CRP grasslands and wetlands ini- tiative is to increase enrollment of environ- mentally sensitive land through targeted signups. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers CRP, will set aside acres within the 32-million acre pro- gram for specific enrollments that benefit duck nesting habitat, upland birds, wet- lands, pollinators and wildlife. “By focusing 1 million acres of CRP on

grasslands and wetlands, this initiative will have enormous benefits for farmers, sports- men, and all Americans,” Vilsack said. “CRP is one of our nation’s most valuable and vital conservation efforts, ensuring

cleaner air and water, preventing soil ero- sion, and enhancing economic opportunity in rural America by supporting recreation and tourism. With high crop prices, this ap- proach to target our most sensitive lands is essential if we want to maintain the sub- stantial benefits of CRP while ensuring that productive farm lands continue to produce the food and fiber Americans and the world needs.” The general session was a highlight,

but as always, the event was packed full of farmer-to-farmer conversations, trade show displays and forged friendships and learning from others. And, this year’s event even included a tornado scare, with the roughly 6,000 people in the huge Gaylord Opryland Hotel ush- ered to the basement of the facility for about an hour, but all ended well at the beautiful facility in Nashville. There was certainly no shortage of people to see and things to do at the massive gather- ing of crop farmers, though there may not have been quite enough seats. There will be more from Commodity

Classic in the April issue and at For photos, visit Commodity Classic under photo gallery at

Ohio’s Country Journal • • Mid-March 2012 • Crops 15

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