The biggest impact of politics on individual farms comes from the area of environmental regulation.

Congress worked all year trying to fix the results of several lawsuits that have come through the court system and force the EPA to implement regulations on farms — just like they do with any other U.S. business.

Failure to comply with these court cases, including the case for pesticide permits, for the TMTL issues in the Chesapeake Bay, the case for dust and particulant matter and for the spill prevention act; could cost farmers thousands of dollars per offense and in effect put some farmers out of business.

“We as agriculture must speak in a unified voice to find workable solutions to these legal cases. The current political system is not going to do it for us. We must find a long-term system for these types of law suits that come through the judicial system,” Peterson says.

In the shorter-term, she says, the 2012 farm bill, if it happens, will have a dramatic impact on farmers.

“What I hear from our farmers and our Board of Directors is the No. 1 priority for the farm bill is to keep some type of crop insurance program that will help farmers manage risk,” she adds.

Early on in the process it looked like agriculture might get by with a $10-$22 billion dollar cut in the farm bill. That quickly gave way to calls for more $54 billion in cuts. A coalition of agriculture groups has brought forward a proposal that calls for $23 billion in cuts.

Peterson says there is a lot of work to do with Congress to keep cuts at $23 billion. “If cuts can be held at that level, that would leave about $30 billion for Title One programs. Farmers had better stick together to keep budget cuts at a manageable level, because there are plenty of groups who want take more and more money out of farm programs,” she says.

“We have got to find a Title One commodity program that compliments crop insurance that is so essential to so many farming operations,” she adds.

“Less than a million U.S. farmers produce over 90 percent of the food grown in the country, yet no one else is going to telling your success story. If you want politics to work for you and not against you, you must speak in a loud, uniform voice,” Peterson says.

rroberson@farmpress.com