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Montana Farmers and Ranchers “Fly-In” For Farm Bill

April 16, 2012

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Renewable energy programs, help for beginning farmers and ranchers, and livestock market fairness are among the talking points for a group of Montana farmers and ranchers in Washington, D.C., this week. The Montana Farmers Union delegation is participating in a "fly-in" which attracts producers from all over the country, and the focus is the next Farm Bill.

The MFU's legislative and project specialist, Chris Christiaens, says the measure is serious business for these producers.

"Farmers and ranchers need some protection against the highs and the lows, and particularly with insurance for disasters. We need to make sure that independent farmers and ranchers can stay in business."

Christiaens says there's been talk of scaling back agricultural safety net programs in the larger discussion about cutting the federal budget.

He says the Farm Bill is often described as a big piece of legislation - covering energy programs, conservation, farm safety nets and nutrition - but it's only a small fraction of total federal spending.

"The Farm Bill is actually only 2.2 percent of the entire federal budget, and of that amount, 80 percent is for nutrition programs."

Another concern is timeliness, with Christiaens pointing out that it's important to get the 2012 Farm Bill on the books this year.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT