BOISE — Food Producers of Idaho has formed a special committee that will offer the state’s congressional delegation input and policy recommendations on the new farm bill.
The committee was formed at the request of Idaho’s four-member congressional delegation.
In a letter to FPI, delegation members said they want to “ensure the policies in the next farm bill continue to strengthen Idaho’s role as a leader in agricultural production ... As Congress develops the next farm bill, these recommendations will play a key role in guiding our decisions on the legislation.”
The committee’s recommendations and core principles will help the delegation get a jump-start on understanding Idaho agriculture’s positions on the new farm bill, said Brad Griff, who handles agriculture issues for Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho.
He said it will also help the delegation “build upon the relationship our offices have with the ag groups in Idaho.”
FPI includes most of the state’s main farm and livestock groups and the newly formed 11-member farm bill committee represents a wide swatch of agriculture in the Gem State.
“I think Idaho is smart to start getting together people in the industry and going over what Idaho agriculture needs in the farm bill,” said Meridian farmer Drew Eggers, a committee member who grows a variety of crops.
Eggers said crop insurance and risk management “is very important in the farm bill and I hope that will continue the way it has in the past.”
Rupert sugar beet farmer and committee member Duane Grant said his industry supports federal policies that will invite investment in the nation’s sugar industry, which has been stagnant in terms of total production for three decades.
There has only been one new sugar facility built in the United States in the past 50 years, said Grant, chairman of Snake River Sugar Co.’s board of directors.
U.S. sugar farmers are producing sugar at a much lower cost per pound than 30 years ago, “but the industry hasn’t been able to grow its capacity to keep up with population growth in the United States,” he said.
“It’s time for the industry ... to look at changes that are needed to farm policy that will enable the sugar industry to meets its obligations as a supplier to this market,” he said.
Committee member Tina Wilson, an economic development specialist who works closely with the agriculture industry in rural areas in southwestern Idaho, said the farm bill provides the funding for USDA rural development grant programs, which she has used a lot to help small farm-oriented communities and businesses.
“I want to ,,, see what I can do to possibly help keep those programs intact because they have been a big benefit to the agricultural industries I’ve been working with,” she said.
Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, told Capital Press in an email he is “extremely pleased that the Food Producers of Idaho created the farm bill committee to provide valuable insight regarding key issues impacting Idaho agriculture. The members of the committee are all extremely knowledgeable and will be a great resource as Congress works on the new farm bill.”