Exceptional yields make global trade policy a priority issue
By Keevin Lemenager, Chair
ISA Membership & Policy Committee
Like the many farmers across the state, I’m spending a lot of time in the combine this month trying to wrap up the harvest season. At the time of the printing of this magazine, harvest on our Morgan County farm is 90 percent complete. I’m reflecting on the ability of farms to endure an unpredictable growing season, make the most of whatever is thrown at them, and see their hard work pay off.
USDA wasn’t wrong when it projected in August that Indiana was going to have a record crop. Our area of the state has seen some exceptional yields. We’re seeing the impact of that with some elevators and on-farm storage being at, or near, capacity.
That’s one of the reasons why trade policy continues to be a priority issue. As farmers grow more crops, there is a need to expand global export opportunities for the state’s row-crop farmers through existing and new trade agreements.
The farm bill is also top of mind for me as the chair of the ISA Membership and Policy Committee (M&P). Our committee works to engage policymakers and advocate for Hoosier soybean growers’ farm bill priorities. The 2018 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30, and the U.S. House and Senate Ag Committee leadership is calling for a one-year extension of that farm bill.
Like many farmers around the state, I rely on crop insurance and am calling for an improved farm safety net in the upcoming bill. M&P members would like to see crop insurance remain affordable; Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) be improved; and an increased soy reference price with option for updating base acres.
On a more personal level, I wouldn’t have been able to continue farming after the drought in 2012 without crop insurance. At the time, I was 12 years into farming and didn’t have the resources and capital necessary to withstand something like that. Crop insurance made it possible for me to continue farming.
I’m also reflecting on my experience as M&P chair. It has been a great experience to learn more about the regulations impacting Indiana farms, the lawmakers making these changes, and how board members can work to communicate priorities. I’ve learned how important it is to be aware of the ongoing policy debates, and how these policies could impact farmers.
I’m also looking forward to serving on American Soybean Association Board of Directors, which is comprised of member representatives from the 26 affiliated state soybean associations. ASA represents U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international policy issues important to the soybean industry. It’s especially critical to have a national advocate like ASA to lobby for pro-farmer policies as Congress continues shaping the next farm bill.
The M&P committee continues to advocate for the state’s farmers and stay in-the-know so they can focus on growing crops. Stay engaged with our organization here.