Traverse City Record-Eagle


February 21, 2014

Editorial: Stabenow, Benishek support long-awaited federal Farm Bill

Will Rogers once said a farmer “has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.”

This eternal optimism of the American farmer — of believing the rains will come, the crops will grow and the farmstead will at least break even because of hard work and faith — was pushed to the limit the last two years. Why? A Farm Bill languished in Congress because of a political gridlock that would make even the most steeled farmer whimper with despair.

The Senate and House finally passed a $100 billion-a-year Farm Bill this month. It was fitting that President Barack Obama came to Michigan State University Feb. 7 to sign the long-delayed legislation because the final version of the Farm Bill is good for Michiganders, and it’s also good for the Grand Traverse region.

The new Farm Bill makes crop insurance available to cherry farmers. Until now, what is arguably the region’s most important crop often went uninsured because there was no adequate program available for cherry farmers to manage risk. Freakish weather in 2012 destroyed most of the northern Michigan cherry crop, yielding a chilling reality: our cherry growers need the hedging tools commonly available to more traditional commodity crops like corn.

The Farm Bill encourages crop diversity, helping small farmers. It contains incentives for farmers markets, helping advance the region’s ever-growing buy local movement. It makes it easier for food stamp recipients to spend their dollars on fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, translating into healthier food options for a population base plagued by obesity. Nikki Rothwell, district horticulturist at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center, said local research on crop pollination will now continue thanks to the Farm Bill.

“(Cherry) growers are signing up for the crop insurance,” Rothwell said this week, adding “specialty crops are going to fare really well in this. That’s such a change from 2008 when specialty crops weren’t even mentioned in the Farm Bill.”

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow