Associated Press - February 3, 2023 7:07 am

Patrick Rother, son of Tom Rother and a nephew to Rev. Stanley Rother, operating a combine in one of the wheat fields on the Rother family homestead and farm just west of Okarche on Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman


Wheat growers from Oklahoma and all over the country are in the nation’s capital this week advocating on behalf of their industry, in general, and specifically pushing for action on a 2023 Farm Bill.

The 5-year 2018 Farm Bill expires, largely, at the end of the fiscal year (September 30), putting pressure squarely on the House and Senate agriculture committees — one under Republican leadership, the other under Democratic control — to work together toward passage of replacement legislation.

“Passage of the 2023 Farm Bill is essential for grain producers in Oklahoma, wheat producers especially,” Dennis Schoenhals, President of the Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association, said.

Schoenhals and a small group of growers and advocates are checking in with the members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation this week, impressing upon each the importance of, at a minimum, maintaining the current safety net for farmers.

“Stability is really a key thing out in rural America,” Keeff Felty, Treasurer of the National Association of Wheat Growers and a past president of the Oklahoma wheat growers group, said. “Where we can have some confidence in knowing where we’re going and what the policies are going to be.”

Their meeting with Congressman Frank Lucas Thursday morning was especially meaningful, given Lucas’ history of involvement with past Farm Bills and his recent reappointment to the House AG Committee so that he can play a leading role in writing the next one.

“He’s got such knowledge — institutional knowledge plus actual knowledge, as he is a rancher in western Oklahoma, and he fully understands,” Keef Felty, Treasurer of the National Association of Wheat Growers and a past president of the Oklahoma association, said.

The wheat growers said the most critical aspect of the Farm Bill is crop insurance, and they’re hoping to perhaps see slight improvements in the terms.

“Mainly, we would like to see crop insurance coverages increase and our premiums be able to come down,” Schoenhals said, “because they went up 50 percent just last year and it was a hard pill to take when you consider diesel fuel went up 75 to 80 percent, fertilizer doubled or tripled, and chemical costs were huge.”


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