Local farmer, Terry Borstad, serves as the treasurer for the State Board of Directors and also serves as Northeast North Dakota District Director for District 1 of the North Dakota Farmers Union.

Local farmer, Terry Borstad, serves as the treasurer for the State Board of Directors and also serves as Northeast North Dakota District Director for District 1 of the North Dakota Farmers Union.

In this position Borstad has had the opportunity to meet with and lobby Congress on the issues of concern to North Dakota farmers.

He and others from the area recently participated in the 2017 Fly In where they visited with North Dakota Senators Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven.

He provided information to the Devils Lake Journal about the things they talked about with the nation’s senators.

“American family farmers and ranchers secure our nation’s food supply, energy independence and the well-being of rural communities from Maine to Hawaii. So when times get tough, family farmers expect their federal representatives to find workable solutions to federal level problems. That’s where the country is at now. Farm income dropped 50 percent in the last four years, farm prices are staying consistently low, production costs remain high and the services and infrastructure underpinning many rural communities are deteriorating.

“On behalf of nearly 200,000 member families nationwide, the family farmers and ranchers participating in the 2017 NFU Fall Legislative Fly-In traveled to the nation’s capitol to advocate for a number of legislative priorities that will affect their operations and communities.
“These members are urging Congress to ensure the farm safety net works for producers, the growth of the American biofuels industry continues to reap benefits for rural communities and family farmers and ranchers have access to affordable, quality health care.”

Top Issues
1. A strong farm safety net
2. Access to affordable, quality health care
3. Transition to a homegrown, renewable energy future

What is a “strong farm safety net?”
American family farmers and ranchers are enduring a severe economic downturn. Prices of major commodities have plummeted over the past four years and projections indicate this trend will continue into the foreseeable future. To ensure the growth and success of family farm agriculture, Congress must strengthen the overall farm safety net.
•Improve farm programs which provide relief for farmers struggling with low commodity prices.
•Protect crop insurance, an essential risk management tool for farmers who suffer crop loss or loss of revenue.
•Provide increased access to credit. USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) set a new record across its loan portfolio last year and needs additional funding.
•Support agriculture mediation programs, which provide support to farmers struggling to meet financial obligations.

What is working (and what isn’t) as far as health care is concerned?
•The current system of tax credits and premium subsidies. These help farmers and ranchers maintain consistent coverage.
•Medicaid expansion. The success of the Medicaid program is crucial to the viability of rural hospitals, where patients enroll in the program at a higher rate than their urban counterparts.
•Protections for individuals with preexisting conditions. These ensure premiums do not skyrocket for those individuals. Two-thirds of farmers and ranchers report having a pre-existing condition.

What needs fixing?
•The health insurance marketplace. Health insurance marketplaces continue to be unstable in many areas, leading to significant increases in premium costs.
•Insurance companies cherrypick profitable marketplaces. This leaves many farming and rural communities with little choice on health insurers.
In fact, 41 percent of rural enrollees currently have just one insurer option.
•Inadequate support for rural hospitals. This forces rural hospital closures, stranding farmers and rural residents.

Renewable energy
The transition to a homegrown, renewable energy future for the U.S. is well underway. The growth of renewable energy use in transportation fuels, powered through policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been a success story for all Americans. For the U.S. to realize the full potential of the renewable energy sector, we should promote clean, higher-blended ethanol, like E30 and advances biobased fuels.”

Borstad said the experience was a positive one. They received a good reception and it appeared that the senators were glad they were there and eager to learn more about the nation’s farmers and their needs.
Most of the information in this story was provided through National Farmers Union publication titled “2017 Fall Fly-In Talking Points”