Agriculture summit participants call for assistance to farmers

Gabe Davis

Participants of the first-ever National Governors’ Association Agricultural Summit addressed rising concerns about smaller farming operations in Iowa and North Dakota.

Gov. Thomas Vilsack and North Dakota Gov. Edward Schafer were among the leaders who attended the conference, which was held in the Scheman Building.

Vilsack said the summit, which was held Thursday, was a success.

“The fact that there were multiple states identified here today, agricultural states, is going to create the momentum we need for discussion,” he said. “People must recognize how far we’ve come.”

Until recently, Vilsack said, the NGA didn’t acknowledge small farm issues.

“February, when I traveled to Washington D.C., the NGA did not have in place a committee or a process of discussing these types of situations,” he said.

The participants of the NGA Agriculture Summit finished the day with resolutions for the future, one of which was the recommendation that President Clinton and the U.S. Congress take immediate action to assist farmers through disaster assistance.

“Gov. Schafer and I were successful in getting the NGA to commit to putting agriculture in its own little area,” Vilsack said. “So we’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time.”

Some of the resolutions called for the promotion and usage of sound science to gain full and free access to foreign markets and the federal government and the states to promote and expand research and development of value-added products.

“I was impressed with what I saw,” said Steve Daugherty, director of government and industry relations with Pioneer Hi-bred International. “[Small farmers] want to be on a farm, and they want to earn the same as their cousin who lives in the city, and they need to have that opportunity.”