Former ambassador highlights some of the top issues facing U.S. farmers

The former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome recently highlighted some of the top issues facing the nation’s farmers and ranchers.

Kip Tom, a seventh-generation farmer from Leesburg, Indiana, says infrastructure investments are needed.

“When you look at some of the risk that United States farmers and our industry has, I would say infrastructure is one of those whether its locks and dams, the 14,000 miles of navigable waterways we have, our road systems, our electrical grid, or our ports,” he says.

He tells Brownfield a globalized supply chain is posing a risk.

“Now countries that are never going to be our allies could potentially put us at risk. I think it’s important we try to bring back some of these supply chains not only to the United States, but also to our friends and allies we’re aligned with,” he says.

Tom uses fertilizer supply chains as an example.

“We have a lot fertilizer, whether it’s potassium out of Belarus, nitrogen out of Russia, or phosphorous out of China,” he says. “These are countries we’re not aligned with and if they wanted to do severe economic damage to our country and the ag industry they could do it.”

And, he says ag policy is top of mind.

“If you talk with just about any farmer, the top issue they want to see stay solid is crop insurance. We need to see similar crop insurance than we’ve seen in the past that give us the protection and our capital partners the protection they need to make sure we have the surety to produce that crop,” he says. “We need to be looking broadly across what we need to get involved with and that includes outside of the farm. A small amount of congressional districts are considered rural. So, our voice is slowly diminishing and our ability to influence bills and influence efforts and policy that can impact our industry so broadly is at risk.”

Brownfield interviewed Tom during the2023 Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry.

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