U.S. rep hopeful about farm issues

Published 5:54 am Friday, February 10, 2017

A lot of uncertainty comes with a change in Washington, but a familiar face on the agriculture committee seems to be a good thing for Louisiana farmers.

Dr. Ralph Abraham, Louisiana’s 5th District Congressman and farmer himself, was appointed to serve on the house agriculture committee again this year. Kyle McCann, associate commodity director with the Louisiana Farm Bureau, said having Abraham back on the committee is a plus for farmers and ranchers.

“Rep. Abraham represents one of the largest row crop districts in the country, and he represents it well,” McCann said. “He asks tough questions on the ag industry’s behalf and that is one of the things that distinguishes him.”

Abraham and other members of the committee have already begun discussing plans for the 2018 Farm Bill.

“We know the weak points of the last Farm Bill, and we know the strong points,” Abraham said. “We want to build on the strong points and eliminate the weak ones.”

Crop insurance will be a very important part of this Farm Bill, according to Abraham.

“We have to take care of our crop insurers and make sure our farmers are taken care of when we have catastrophic events, like the March and the August flooding,” Abraham said. “Crop insurance is the last lifeline that our farmers have to become bankable for the next year.”

Abraham also said lawmakers are working to find a balance in commodity prices and production costs to protect farmers and ensure that they can make a living.

“Right now, production cost are very high and commodity prices are unfortunately very low.” Abraham said. “I think there’s going to be a tone of getting this right. Farmers are not only our food security, they are our national security.”

Changes in cabinet position also seem to be going agriculture’s way. Abraham said he is optimistic about Trump’s decision of Sonny Perdue, former Georgia governor, to head the USDA.

With Perdue there, Georgia’s Zippy Duval serving as president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Mike Strain, serving as president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the South will be well represented when it comes to agricultural issues.