ND farmers flying into Washington to advocate farm bill
By Dustin Monke, N.D./MCTDickinson Press--Everyone has to eat.
September 9, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
That's the motto southwest North Dakota farmers Jim Kerzman and Bob Kuylen have, and it's the sentiment they're taking with them to Washington, D.C., this week as part of the National Farmers Union's annual fly-in event to lobby members of Congress to support the farm bill.
Sixty-seven North Dakota Farmers Union members are flying into the nation's capital and Kuylan, who farms wheat and sunflowers near South Heart, said he hopes the delegation can put some faces to the farm bill.
“They like to talk to actual farmers instead of lobbyists,” Kuylen said. “We'll tell them what's going on out in the country, instead of someone being paid and curving it their way.”
The nine-month farm bill extension passed Jan. 1 expires at the end of September and has been bouncing from the House of Representatives to the Senate with major and minor changes seemingly ever since with little agreement. If the farm bill isn't passed, there is a possibility of another extension before the bill expires Sept. 30.
Kuylen and Kerzman, a Mott area farmer who served seven sessions in the North Dakota Legislature as a Democrat, said the members are pushing to keep crop insurance subsidies and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the food stamp assistance program commonly referred to as SNAP, in the bill.
North Dakota Farmers Union members are leery of the scaled-down farm bill that separates food stamp spending into a separate bill, primarily because they believe it would lead to the failure in Congress of the part of the farm bill that actually serves to help family farms.
At a meeting with supporters Friday morning at Perkins restaurant in Dickinson, Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who voted for separating the bill, agreed.
“You have really a bunch of people who represent folks who eat food and have no idea where it comes from, and a bunch of people who grow it and separately, they can never make for 51 percent. Together, they did,” Cramer said. “That strategy worked for years.”