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Long testifies at House Ag Committee farm bill hearing


By: Georgia Farm Bureau
6/28/2017 1:40:40 PM


Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long gave testimony during the U.S. House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Listening Session held June 24 in Gainesville, Florida.

The hearing allowed southern farm stakeholders to provide input on the effectiveness of the current farm bill, which expires in September 2018, and what they'd like to see in the next farm bill.

Long gave a brief overview of Georgia agriculture, noting its $74 billion economic impact in the state, that it provides one of every seven jobs in the state and Georgia farmers ranking nationally in the production of several key commodities.

"It is critical that the next farm bill continue to work for all segments of agriculture from all regions of the country,"
Long told the committee.

Long reviewed crop losses over the past year due to adverse weather conditions and emphasized the importance of continuing crop insurance programs.

"Crop insurance will allow these growers to remain in business for at least another year," Long said. "We urge you to maintain a sound crop insurance program and oppose any effort to undermine its effectiveness."

GFB opposes additional tightening of payment limits and eligibility requirements, Long said, and he noted the importance of continuing the farm bill's conservation programs and the Livestock Forage Program (LFP).

Long and Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick gave featured testimony at the hearing, which included comments from seven other Georgians.

Screven County Farm Bureau President Joe Boddiford urged the committee to preserve the current farm bill's protections for peanuts.

Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association President Mike Bruorton emphasized the importance of funding for specialty crop research.

Dooly County Farm Bureau member Matt Coley, a Georgia Cotton Commission board member, asked that the committee preserve the farm bill's conservation programs.

Ben Evans, manager of the Coffee County Gin Company, reviewed the economics of the cotton industry, which has been beset by continued low commodity prices while facing restrictions in government support programs as a result of the Brazil WTO case.

Kent Fountain of Southeastern Gin and Peanut Company in Appling County urged the committee to find a way to get cotton back under the commodity title of the farm bill.

Georgia Peanut Commission Executive Director Don Koehler told the committee that the crop insurance programs available to peanut growers have worked well and asked that they be continued.

Carl Zimmer of Premium Peanuts in Coffee County, owned by a group of South Georgia farmers, said the business was made possible because of stability in farm bill programs.


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