The new farm bill, immigration reform, estate taxes and federal budget cuts were key issues discussed this week by Oklahoma Farm Bureau leaders during a five-day lobbying effort in the nation’s capitol.

“It’s extremely important to discuss these issues not only with our own congressional delegation but other officials as well,” said Mike Spradling, OFB president. “Even though we are in frequent contact with our delegation, they need our support as they work on these issues in Washington, D.C.”

A new farm bill proposal from the American Farm Bureau focusing on a strong crop insurance program was recently sent to Capitol Hill. Spradling said an effective crop insurance program is needed when agricultural crises arise, such as the recent drought that severely damaged crops in the southern High Plains.

“The recent history of natural disasters has proven an effective crop insurance program is the only thing that stands between producers having the chance to grow another crop and food production being severely impacted,” Spradling said. “Crop insurance needs to continue to be viable, affordable and flexible to cover a wide variety of crops and growing regions.”

The farm group emphasized the importance of passing a new farm bill as farmers face uncertainty going into the spring growing season.

“It’s vital we get a new farm bill written this year,” Spradling said. “Continued delays will reduce the farm program’s effectiveness.”

The Farm Bureau leaders emphasized they need a new farm bill that provides a strong safety net for farm income using a combination of crop insurance, a revenue assurance program and price protection.

During the trip, the farm leaders met with U.S. Sen. Inhofe and Sen. Coburn, plus all five U.S. House members from Oklahoma, including Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

“Lucas is directing the new farm bill, and we’re glad he understands how important the farm bill is for Oklahoma agriculture,” Spradling said.

In addition, the Oklahoma farm leaders received legislative briefings from key staff at the American Farm Bureau office.

The Farm Bureau group has made the Washington, D.C., trip an annual rite of spring, as they take time out from their farm chores to visit the capitol and talk with the nation’s leaders.