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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Ellsworth visits area farmers

Friday, February 23, 2007

Congressman Brad Ellsworth met with local farmers at the Farm Bureau Insurance Office in Greencastle Thursday to discuss a new farm bill.
Input for a new farm bill is no needle in the haystack search for Congressman Brad Ellsworth as he met with area farmers Thursday at the Farm Bureau Insurance Office in Greencastle.

Ellsworth explained to several farmers and other members of the audience that his background experience was not in farming, but rather serving as a member of the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department and being involved in law enforcement for 25 years.

But after traveling through the 8th District during his campaign tour, Ellsworth knows that farming is a mainstay in areas like Central and Southern Indiana. So in order to help those who helped him, Ellsworth joined the Congressional House's Committee on Agriculture.

"I don't have all the answers, but if I could have some input that helps the farmers and family farmers here I want to be right in the middle of the mix," Ellsworth said.

Ellsworth told this group that he had a lot to learn about agriculture. He also told them that if he is going to be their representative in Washington D.C., he needs to know everything they like and dislike about the farm bill and what should and should not go into it.

Ellsworth heard from several farmers on their concerns with current and future items, along with input for the new farm bill.

Chris Mann, a farmer, informed Ellsworth that both livestock and crop farmers are dealing with several issues. Some of these issues include a long term increase on the cost of grain due to renewable fuels, an increase in cost production of these crops, an increase in the price of land and numerous regulations and records, especially on livestock farmers.

Jeff Gormong, a farmer from Terre Haute, told Ellsworth that he was concerned about the crop farmers' safety net, especially when both the price of crops and the price of production increases while the safety net stays down low. Gormong also said that it is hard to say when the safety net should be raised, especially when the farmers are currently making good money, but that safety net becomes obsolete when the cost of production rises.

Mark Legan, a livestock and crop farmer, said that his farm sells half of its crop, while it feeds the other half to the livestock. Legan also said that his major concern is what is going to happen to the price of grain two to three years from now.

Keith Berry, another area livestock farmer, said he and other livestock farmers are worried that this new farm bill will place a restriction on how they should raise their livestock. Berry also believes that Ellsworth has a big impact on the numerous and different regulations that are put on farmers.

To go along with the topic of livestock, both Gormong and Kevin Cox believe there is a problem with how the general public views farms.

Gormong said that farmers and the general public look animals in two different ways.

A farmer looks at his or her animal as a commodity, while the general public looks at the animal as a part of the family or general society.

Cox said that another problem was the urban sprawl. Urban sprawl is basically the expansion of a metropolitan area into an area that was previously less developed.

Cox commented that when these people move out into the farmlands, they really do not want to hear, see, or smell the farms. "Well, we were here first and this is production agriculture," Cox said.

Ellsworth told the farmers that he sees himself not as an agriculture expert when he comes to these roundtable discussions, but rather as somebody with a clean slate who takes the information provided and makes unbiased opinions.

Several of the farmers said that Ellsworth should base all his decisions for this bill on scientific research before anything is written out.

One major challenge that many of these and several other farmers face is having the ability to pass the family farm down to the next generation with the high taxes.

Ellsworth said he would do everything he can to help keep the family farm alive and operating.

Some of the other topics that were discussed were:

* the AGI payment limit;

* the 1031 tax exchange;

* an increase in the market loan rates;

* crop insurance; and

* the Cercla and Superfund removal of manure as hazardous waste.

Ellsworth told the BannerGraphic that he believes these roundtable discussions help him write bills like the new farm bill because it helps him understand what these farmers are going through. When he hears things in Washington, D.C. that affect farmers, he wants to come back to the state to check up the facts.

"It's words on paper up there (Washington D.C.), its their everyday life here," Ellsworth said."

"What might be a one sentence line in a 200 page document can totally change your life."

Ellsworth also said that having these face-to-face discussions is invaluable because all questions on both sides can be answered quickly.

Even though it is going to take more than one meeting to get everything ready for the bill, Ellsworth did encourage the farmers to contact him with their questions or concerns, with the hopes that he could do the same and possibly have the farmers speak in front of the committee about their wants and needs.

It is the hope of both Ellsworth and his other committee members to have the bill completed by June and put on the President's desk by September.

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