FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 7, 2017
CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-271- 5734 (cell)
From the International Sweetener Symposium:
SAN DIEGO — Leaders from the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union (NFU) today pledged their continued support of U.S. sugar policy and said they would help rally agriculture during the upcoming Farm Bill debate.
“Our Farm Bill policies agree with the direction sugar producers want, and the Farm Bureau is going to be one of the best partners you’ve ever seen,” Farm Bureau President Vincent “Zippy” Duvall said during an address to the sugar industry’s annual meeting.
This was the first time in many years that the president of the nation’s largest farm organization spoke at the sugar meeting, and Duvall said his appearance underscores the need for all of agriculture to come together ahead of the 2018 Farm Bill.
“This is not a time to be divided, this is a time to be united,” he explained. “It’s our time. We have the right people in the right places…to write a food security bill to benefit all Americans.”
Roger Johnson, NFU’s President, agreed and explained that it’s important for agriculture to come together and to work closely with members of the nutrition and conservation communities, who will be essential to the Farm Bill’s passage.
And this Farm Bill is particularly important given today’s tough economic times. “A Farm Bill should address needs, not a budget,” he explained.
“The economic situation facing farmers is pretty tough right now and has been for the past several years,” Johnson continued. “This financial pain is felt very broadly across farms of all sizes…[loan repayment] delinquency rates are up, and bankruptcies are up.”
Johnson also explained that the NFU has been a strong supporter of America’s no-cost sugar policy for years because it helps U.S. producers survive in today’s low-price environment and levels the playing field against heavily subsidized foreign producers.
Jack Pettus, chairman of the American Sugar Alliance, thanked both men for their leadership and continued support, and said sugar producers are eager to work closely with the rest of agriculture during the next Farm Bill.
“Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy. It is a major job creator. It keeps food safe and affordable for all Americans, and it is essential to our national security,” he said. “If we want that success story to continue, it is incumbent upon everyone involved in agriculture to come together and fight for a strong farm safety net for all Americans.”