Preparation for the next farm bill needs to start now

In the decades since federal farm programs began, they have changed many times and in many ways.

But at least two things have remained constant: They’re important, but they’re also complicated and difficult for both farmers and lawmakers to understand.

That’s why it’s crucial that, at both the state and national level, Farm Bureau develops a coherent message and strategy in preparation for the 2018 farm bill.

At the national level, AFBF has begun collecting information from states. Indiana is one of 16 state Farm Bureaus that have been participating in the AFBF farm bill working group. Katrina Hall, INFB’s public policy director, is representing Indiana on this group, which has already met more than once.

INFB itself has assembled a 30-member group to look at federal policy as it impacts Hoosier and Midwestern farmers. The group will be meeting on Nov. 11 and 22.

The farm bill was the topic of some discussion at INFB’s August delegate session. However, it will be the major topic at the delegate session that will be held in December during the state convention.

Among important issues for Indiana farmers are crop insurance and other safety nets, including the Agriculture Risk Coverage program authorized under the 2014 farm bill; conservation programs; and the Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers, Hall said.

The farm bill will also be a major topic of discussion at the AFBF annual meeting, which will be held in January. That meeting will be very important because Farm Bureau believes the farm bill negotiations will begin in earnest in early 2017.

In preparation for the discussions by delegates and other members, INFB is preparing background materials that farmers will be able to use when considering these issues. Some of that material will be presented in a special insert that will be published in the Nov. 21 issue of The Hoosier Farmer.

“We need to hear from farmers about the current farm programs – what needs fixing and what is working well,” Hall said.

INFB will be sending out an online survey to those voting members the organization has emails for. In fact, Hall said, they should have received that survey by the time they receive this issue of The Hoosier Farmer. Anyone who didn’t receive it and wants to participate should contact Diane Miller,, 317-692-7834.

In addition, a series of INFB regional farm bill listening sessions are in the works for November and early December. For dates and locations, see the Nov. 7 issue of The Hoosier Farmer or check the website,

To access AFBF resources on the farm bill, visit