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Farmer Cooperatives on the Hill

Cindy Zimmerman

It’s a great week for the National Council of Farmers Cooperatives to be holding its annual Washington Conference with all that is going on in the nation’s capitol impacting the agriculture industry.

ncfc-dc-13GROWMARK Executive Director of Corporate and Government Relations Chuck Spencer called me from DC this morning to talk about what they are discussing on the Hill and of course the main topic is the farm bill which the full Senate passed last night. “I think a lot of agriculture is supportive of the Senate farm bill program,” he said. “They have the provisions in there that would provide risk management programs that farmers have utilized very successfully” particularly last year during one of the worst droughts in history.

Members of the GROWMARK executive committee will be visiting with lawmakers in the House this afternoon to urge them to get a farm bill passed as well. “The House does have more of a potential for challenge to the farm bill so there may be a tremendous amount of debate regarding food and nutrition programs,” Chuck said, noting that the House bill does have language eliminating the duplicative permitting process for applying crop protection products. “We’ve got to see a farm bill passed. We’ve put it off one year. We need to get to conference committee, strike a compromise so we can have good farm business plans put into place for the next few years.”

The cooperatives also have a big interest in comprehensive immigration reform on the Senate floor this week. “The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives have worked very closely with all of agriculture … to forge a compromise that will pass the Senate and we hope to see it pass the House,” said Chuck. The coops meeting in Washington represent a wide range of agricultural interests that depend on foreign farm labor, including fruit and vegetable growers, dairy producers and the seed corn industry.

Listen to my interview with Chuck here: GROWMARK's Chuck Spencer

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