Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware) met with farmers Wednesday morning at the Harrington Fire Hall to hear the biggest issues they’re facing. She plans to use that input as she helps Congress shape its next Farm Bill.
Farmers, like Middletown’s Dennis Clay, say their biggest concern is cuts to federal crop insurance.
A House budget plan would chop $10 billion from the U.S. Department of Agriculture budget and Clay worries that would translate into reduced federal insurance support.
“I think it’s important. It means everyone’s got skin in the game. We pay, everybody pays and I think it’s the best way to go,” Clay said.
Kitty Holtz, the president of the Delaware Farm Bureau, said crop insurance is a valuable risk management tool farmers use in their business. Farmers rely on crop insurance to recuperate in years when severe weather or high production costs lead to big losses.
“They’re not making money but it helps them with losses so they can go that one more year," Holtz said.
That’s one point Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester said she intends to bring up in the House Committee on Agriculture that she sits on .
“Just like we have to have insurance for our cars and our homes, crop insurance is really important to all of the farmers here. It really makes sure that a family can keep or a business can keep their farm,” Blunt Rochester said.
According to the USDA, Delaware ranks first in the country in the value of agriculture products sold per farm: $425,000. Kent and Sussex counties are in the top 2 percent in the value of vegetables sold in more than 3,000 counties across the country.
Gov. John Carney said agriculture provides jobs and income to thousands of Delawareans up and down the state.
“They spend that money buying from other small businesses and businesses across Delaware, and it’s also a way of life. Most of the farms in Delaware are family farms. They’ve been in those families for generations, so we’re basically supporting that legacy of the land here in our great state,” Carney said.
Blunt Rochester said the committee should have a final 2018 Farm Bill ready next spring.