Congressional inertia puts our food supply at risk

American consumers enjoy the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world.

Two million American farms work day in and day out, all year long to produce the food and fiber we have grown to depend on. They work to ensure there is a variety of fresh, wholesome products in grocery stores, at restaurants and on dining tables.

Our farms don’t just produce food and fiber, but they also power our economy. Farms and ranches produced more than $390 billion in goods last year. Agriculture and related industries employ more than 21 million American workers. The United States boasts a trade surplus in terms of agriculture, exporting $54 billion more than we import. One out of every three acres of agricultural products are planted for export.

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Despite the critical importance of agriculture to our society and the industry’s contributions to our economy, Congress has failed to support the industry that provides our nation’s food supply. Because of Congressional inertia on the farm bill, the abundance, safety and affordability of our nation’s food supply is at serious risk.

The farm bill plays an integral role in the decisions about the foods that are grown and produced in our country and, ultimately, what people eat. The investment made in our farmers has a direct impact on the quantity and quality of products that end up on shelves and dinner plates.

The farm bill authorizes trade programs that many small businesses rely on to develop markets in foreign countries. Through trade missions and international trade shows supported by the farm bill, mom-and-pop shops transform into global enterprises.

Furthermore, the farm bill supports disaster assistance programs, safeguards public health and protects our natural resources.

Too much is at stake for Congress to delay action on the farm bill any longer. The 30 elected and appointed state Republican agriculture leaders of America call on Washington to act now on this vital piece of legislation.  Our nation’s future depends on our leaders banding together in support of the industry that feeds you, me and the rest of America. 

Putnam is Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and chairman of the Republican Agriculture Commissioners Committee.