Rep. Steve Stivers, (R) 15th Congressional District, joined a round table discussion Friday morning, March 21, with 24 men and women in his district. The Madison County Farm Bureau organized the event held in the machine shop on the Dennis Wilt farm in Madison County.
Stivers spoke on several topics, which affect the agricultural community and then took questions from men and women in the audience.
The farm bill was finally passed, after a year delay, which provides a continuance of crop insurance, which Stivers supports. He voted for a “risk-based” plan, which he called important. By risk-based it means as the farmer applies for crop insurance, he/she decides how much risk, from 50 percent to 85 percent payment in the event of failure, he/she is willing to pay in premiums, explained Mike Vallery, insurance agent and round table attendee.
There are no more direct payments to farmers.
The new farm bill, which will be in effect for the next five years — which he called reassuring to farmers — also made Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) more flexible, “so it doesn’t compete against farmers.”
“I’m for that,” he said.
Regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Stivers said he supports farmers “to be able to expand markets, which is good for you and good for the world.”
But with Japan protecting its pork producing industry — the biggest in the TPP — by denying imports of pork from the U.S., raised concern in Stivers.
Mike Vallery asked about the possibility of requiring drug testing before receiving food stamps. He said a drug test is often required for a job application, why not for receiving government assistance?
Stivers replied he favors letting the states decide that issue. He said though SNAP is funded by the government, those dollars are administered by the state.
Mike Boerger, who farms in Pike Township, asked Stivers about the situation in the Ukraine, Crimea and Russia.
Stivers said he felt the U.S. should show its outrage at the situation.
“We need to stand up against it,” Stivers said. “It’s a violation of international law.”
Stivers said Sebastopol in the Crimea is Russia’s only warm water port and was the primary reason for annexing it. He said freezing Russia’s assets was a good idea, but the administration reacted to slowly and Russia was able to withdraw $122 billion from American banks.
“Freezing assets doesn’t mean as much,” Stivers said.
Dale Rapp, a veteran and farmer, expressed concern about military personnel being denied the opportunity to pray with another person.
“If you speak of religion in the military you can be given extra duty,” Rapp said. He said also some “handicaps” have been given to military chaplains.
Stivers, who remains active in the military, said that when his unit was deployed to Iraq, having the spiritual counsel of a chaplain was a comfort to his army comrades.
“In Iraq it helped our soldiers,” Stivers said.
Stivers said he came away from the meeting feeling folks in agriculture have concerns about government’s reach into their lives in the form of EPA and OSHA.
“They need certainty, which this farm bill provides, and that agriculture can create jobs for our future and feed the world,” he said.
Dean Shipley can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 17 or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.