Michigan's agriculture sector is growing. But some food producers think there are some hurdles standing in the way of their expanding industry, speakers told U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee leadership during a 2012 farm bill hearing.
It's a business that many outsiders don't understand but rely on every single day, it was stressed by more than one person testifyng. "Farmers need stability," said Clark Gerstacker, a corn and soybean farmer. "The farm bill is not for the 2 percent of the population that farms. It’s for the 2 percent to provide for the 98 percent that relies on us.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is chair of the Agriculture Committee, and along with colleague, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), ranking Republican member of the Agriculture Committee, held a hearing Tuesday in East Lansing, Mich., to hear input for writing the next farm bill. This was the first scheduled Senate field hearing about the farm bill, and no other similar hearings are currently on the Senate Agriculture Committee calendar.
"It's a national security issue," said Roberts. "Show me a country that can't sustain itself in regards to its food supply and I'll show you a country that's wavering and having problems."
He also said, “Today we learned that while producers in Michigan and Kansas have a few differences, we have much more in common. Folks back home on the high plains suffer from disastrous drought, while producers here struggle with excessive rain. Our crops may be as different as our weather, but our needs for a strong safety net, and protections from over burdensome and costly regulations, from the EPA, GIPSA and the CFTC, they’re all the same.
More than a dozen witnesses testified on increasing research opportunities, access to credit and price protection for crops.