Sioux Falls, South Dakota was the site of the latest House Ag Committee hearing on the 2012 Farm Bill. Nearly 175 Sioux Falls community members and 12 members of Congress attended the hearing. House Ag Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., says the Farm Bill has to evolve so it continues to provide a safety net that works nationwide, just like agriculture producers have to adapt to stay in business.
Congressman Tim Walz, D-Minn., says Congress needs to make smarter and better targeted investments that foster a stronger rural economy in the 2012 Farm Bill because agriculture is absolutely critical to the nation's rural economies and communities. According to Congressman Adrian Smith, R-Neb., ag has a role in the economic, social and environmental outlook of not only the U.S. but the entire planet. He says Congress should be working to create policies that will strengthen American ag and provide long-term stability for the nation's producers to compete in the international marketplace.
Peterson gave sugar policy a ringing endorsement during the hearing saying sugar policy is working exactly as it is supposed to and suggesting that he doesn't foresee big changes in sugar. Growers at other committee hearings held across the country echoed this assessment.
Galen Lee, a farmer and President of the Nyssa-Nampa Beet Growers Association, said Congress designed a sugar policy that is working to the considerable benefit of consumers and at zero cost to taxpayers. Plus it's giving the remaining American sugar farmers a chance to survive. John Snyder, President of the Washakie Beet Growers, strongly urged the continuation of this successful, no-cost policy in the next Farm Bill.
Throughout each testimony one theme has continued to surface: rural jobs. Growers know that if sugar policy is weakened in the upcoming Farm Bill it's not just farmers who will feel the pain. The ripple effect will reverberate in the community. According to the American Sugar Alliance, nationwide 146,000 jobs and $10 billion in economic activity are underpinned by a strong sugar policy.