Policy, dairy margin coverage topics at roundtable
ROCK SPRINGS, Pa. — U.S. Representative Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (Pa.-15) led a roundtable with other officials at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days.
Thompson, a member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, began with the progress of the 2018 Farm Bill.
He was joined by U.S. Representatives Fred Keller (PA-12) and Conor Lamb (PA-17), Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Matthew Lohr, and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert.
Thompson said the Dairy Margin Coverage Program, which was approved in the Farm Bill, is a completely different tool.
He added that farmers have until Sept. 20 to take advantage of that program.
Ebert pointed out that 2018 was particularly difficult for farmers, and 2019 is shaping up to be difficult as well. He noted a cost of preventive planting of about $2 billion.
Thompson said residents should be building on the progress of the Farm Bill, and continue to address the issues affecting agriculture such as trade.
He called attention to the market opportunities of pending trade agreements, notably USMCA.
Ebert said USMCA will improve the old NAFTA, and noted, “Ninety-five percent of the population are outside the U.S.”
Redding underscored the progress of USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and related his positive remarks at a recent dairy summit in the state.
Lohr responded to a point raised by a questioner regarding the absence of crediting NRCS work in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay model for the watershed implementation plan.
Lohr said that sharing agreements limited their sharing to aggregate data, but he wanted to give agriculture efforts due credit.
Redding acknowledged that a recent survey identified practices that were not captured in the model. If the best management practices were not paid by grants, crediting was distorted.
However, Redding noted that water quality is improving.
Lohr told a questioner who raised an issue on dikes that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection allows some stream projects with a permit.
He added that NRCS has equipment and could visit his farm.
An FFA ag student asked the panel for advice on the best way to be an advocate.
Lohr stressed relationships and said, “Be able to connect.”
Keller suggested using social media as a tool.
He added, “Go into areas not in your comfort zone. Talk to the Farm Bureau and county leaders.”
Thompson urged, “Engage the youth.” Relating to cable TV, he also pointed out, “People want to be foodies.”
In addition, Thompson mentioned that young military and service veterans should investigate the possibilities of farm credit sources.
Information on the Dairy Margin Coverage Program referenced by Thomson can be accessed at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/dairy-margin-coverage-program/index.
Data on eligibility, application, benefits, instructions on price calculations, and more is available.
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