During his annual State of the Farmers Union address, NFU President Roger Johnson voiced his support for energy subsidies. Johnson told those attending the organization's annual conference in San Antonio, Texas, that in this tough budget, energy subsidies are going to be on the chopping block, and ethanol will continue to be a target.
Johnson said it is time to remind folks that the U.S. petroleum industry currently receives $46 billion in domestic subsidies, and that number reaches nearly $200 billion if defense spending to protect the supply and transit of oil is included. Johnson believes if biofuels will be required to give up supports, oil subsidies should also be on the table, since they are to the tune of 30 times more than ethanol.
Concerning the costs of food products, Johnson said American consumers pay less than 10% of their disposable income on food. It's the best deal in the world. But part of that deal is that farmers need a safety net, designed to help farmers when times are tough. That is why it is critical to ensure safety nets are included in the 2012 Farm Bill.
Johnson said the 2012 Farm Bill will almost certainly be the most significant piece of legislation that dealt with in the coming year. Johnson believes it is critical for members to make informed choices in setting the top priorities for what needs to be included in the farm bill. A speaker panel informed members from a variety of perspectives and helped them understand the intricacies of this important piece of legislation. Speakers on the panel included farm bill experts from Washington, D.C., the Obama administration, and academia.
Delegates at the 109th annual National Farmers Union convention adopted a special order of business calling on Congress to include a strong safety net in the 2012 Farm Bill. The special order of business also calls on Congress to write the farm bill before the close of the 112th Congress. According to Johnson the expiring baselines of many 2008 Farm Bill programs and the potential damage that their expiration would cause require the bill to be acted upon in a timely manner. He adds that waiting longer means even less money will be available for writing the legislation.
NFU delegates adopted a special order of business calling on Congress to investigate the historically wide agricultural commodity base levels as well. The delegates are also looking to Congress to designate an agency to be responsible for the oversight and regulation of basis.