Agricultural Association Leaders Discuss Sustainability, Trade and Crop Insurance at Commodity Classic

On the impact of precision agriculture and the importance of infrastructure improvements in rural America, Stucke said continual improvement is vital. Precision agriculture, he pointed out to her, helps farmers increase yields, reduces inputs and helps the environment.

“The team is what puts the seed in the ground and harvests (crops),” Stucke said. “Equipment manufacturers are investing a lot of our time in technology and precision … (that) allows farmers to better manage the land.”

Stucke said AEM has been lobbying Congress for years to improve America’s roads and bridges, waterways and rural connectivity.

“It’s important to rural America,” he said. “You need to get the crops to market. Our factories are in rural America and then they want to get online. There are over 700,000 jobs in equipment manufacturing in rural America.”

Doyle answered questions about the renewal of the Farm Bill and trade relations with China.

ASA surveyed members across the country about what they would like in the 2023 Farm Bill, Doyle said. The importance of crop insurance tops the charts.

“Through the China trade war, PLC (price loss hedge) payments never kicked in,” Doyle said. “So the reference price is a priority. We would like to see it adjusted upwards because inflation increases costs, among other things.”

As for the soybean trade with China, Doyle said the country is and will continue to be the world’s largest buyer. “China buys one in three rows of soybeans in the US. They are a strong commercial buyer,” Doyle said. “Can we replace China if they back down? No. But we have a safety net and the United States Soybean Export Council has representatives all over the world who promote their use.”

Carson was asked how climate change will affect sorghum production and demand for the crop in the future.

Carson said sorghum is a water-absorbing crop and is ideal for growing in places like his farm in the Texas Panhandle, where rainfall can be extremely variable. It went through 17 months with just over 5 inches of rain followed by 16 inches in 27 days.

“With the climate changes and weather challenges that we’ve had, I’ve gravitated toward something that makes me more climate friendly that will make my farm more sustainable and efficient in the future,” Carson said, referring to growing more sorghum. Farmers from Texas to the Dakotas, in more arid regions, are doing the same, she added.

Carson went on to say that China is the top importer of US sorghum, but the industry is working in Vietnam, India and other countries to boost demand. The industry is also working to increase domestic use, particularly in biofuels.

Mayfield asked what wheat growers are doing to advocate for crop insurance and agricultural research, which can go hand in hand.

“Domestic wheat growers have always been advocates of crop insurance,” Milligan said. “Agriculture is a risky business. We certainly need that protection, which is provided (because of) great cooperation between the government and the private sector.

Milligan said the wheat association advocates for improvements in government drought monitoring to help with crop insurance claims. The association is also lobbying for more federal funding to bolster disease- and drought-resistant wheat varieties.

Questions about how to work to expand the use of biofuels and the importance of farmers working together for common goals were directed to Edgington from the NCGA.

The Next Generation Fuels Act, which raises gasoline octane to a minimum standard through low-carbon renewable fuels, is introduced in Congress in 2021. Edgington said the group is pushing hard to get it passed.

“We are making a lot of progress, taking a lot of steps,” he said. “We have more than 20 co-sponsors on the bill. It’s our attempt to get to the next generation of fuel (on the market).”

For the most part, farm groups often have common goals, Edgington said, such as advancing biofuels. Working together, for the most part, would be mutually beneficial.

“We have a lot of shared goals,” Edgington continued. “We may have different tactics, but we have a lot in common. So one of the thoughts is to spend time as associations, working together on common goals.”

Commodity Classic is the largest farmer-led agricultural and educational fair in the United States. The show ends on Saturday.

Matthew Wilde can be reached at matt.wilde@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @progressivwilde

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