Paving the way for the future of American agriculture

In the current Farm Bill we must build on the strengths of American agriculture and promote investments in research, marketing and conservation. The government must use those investments to leverage the industry and family farm dollars paid to crop commissions to bolster further excellent innovation and research. These public-private partnerships are critical in solving the most significant challenges our farmers are currently facing.

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The House Agriculture Committee and farmers across the nation are also realizing that crop insurance, much like other insurance policies Americans obtain, makes sense in these difficult times. American farmers are trying to compete with farming interests from around the world, while dealing with climate change, pests and disease. Whether facing drought in the South or the spotted wing drosophila in the Pacific Northwest, the research and development of new hybrids, cropping techniques and conservation programs are necessary to help American farmers and ensure the safety of our food. Investments in school lunch programs, farm to market programs and appropriate labeling of products help consumers meet dietary needs and understand the benefits of American agriculture. America can outcompete the rest of the world in specialty crop production, while decreasing national health concerns and providing much needed economic support for our nation's rural communities.

A good Farm Bill should pave the way for the future of American agriculture, not revel in the past. If American agriculture is to remain the standard bearer of how agriculture should benefit a society it must present itself in a better light to the American public. We must continue to understand the importance of value added production of specialty crops, invest in research opportunities and appropriate insurance support for farmers with a suitable amount of skin in the game. The future of American agriculture rests on these ideas to produce the best quality food in the world in the safest manner possible.

Rep. Schrader (D-Ore.) is a member of the House Agriculture Committee.