The groups asked Congress to pass a new farm bill this year “to provide the level of certainty in America that a short-term extension cannot. The nation is currently facing record high federal deficits and this requires difficult decisions. We stand ready to do our part to develop more efficient farm policy that will be responsive to taxpayers and effective in helping farms remain viable and productive.

The statement was released by National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer, a corn grower from Auburn, Ill.; National Association of Wheat Growers President Wayne Hurst, a wheat producer from Burley, Idaho; American Soybean Association President Steve Wellman, soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb.; and National Sorghum Producers Chairman Terry Swanson, a sorghum grower from Walsh, Colo.

The organizations represent more than 70 percent of all crop acres in the United States. More than 5,400 farmers had pre-registered for Commodity Classic, which would be a new record attendance for the event, which is being held at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

“Agriculture is a bright spot in our nation’s economy, sustainably meeting the expanding demands to provide food, feed, fuel and fiber to the world,” the statement said. “We are pleased to see the Senate and House Agriculture Committees have produced such an aggressive schedule and we thank them for their efforts.”

On Thursday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., announced a series of farm bill field hearings to take place throughout March and April. The first one is scheduled for upstate New York with other stops slated for Illinois, Arkansas and Kansas.

Lucas said the hearings will give Members of the House Agriculture Committee the opportunity to hear firsthand how U.S. farm policy is working for farmers and ranchers in advance of writing legislation.

The field hearings are the next step in the farm bill development. Last June, Chairman Lucas began the effort when the Agriculture Committee held 11 audit hearings on agriculture programs to look for ways to improve programs for farmers, increase efficiency, and reduce spending.

The information gained from the audits combined with perspective from the field will serve as a useful reference for Committee Members.

flaws@farmpress.com