WILMINGTON, Del. – On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) met with farmers and agriculture representatives as he toured several rural and urban farms and gardens to discuss Delaware agricultural priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill. He was joined in a roundtable discussion by Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse, farmers from around the state, and representatives from U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Development, as well as New Castle, Kent and Sussex Conservation Districts, and the crop insurance industry. The conversations highlighted conservation efforts assisted by the USDA and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which works with farmers and growers to increase their bottom line through conservation practices that, in turn, help protect our lands and waterways.
Delaware’s agriculture sector supports thousands of jobs and numerous industries that support it. In fact, the annual value of agricultural production in Delaware is around $1.3 billion. Delaware’s farmers are first in the nation in the value of products produced per acre, first in lima bean acres harvested, and Sussex County is one of the top broiler-producing counties in the nation.
“We must ensure our farmers receive adequate support from the federal government so that they can thrive and grow,” said Senator Carper. “Just last week, we received President Trump’s budget, which proposes a $4.6 billion cut to USDA, as well as limits on crop insurance premium subsidies, eligibility of agricultural commodity payments, and eligibility for crop insurance. I have concerns that such drastic cuts to USDA and proposed cuts to the Farm Bill will negatively impact the agriculture industry in Delaware and across the country.
“I am also focused on preserving the incredible gains Delaware farmers have made in selling their poultry, corn, soybeans and other commodities to Mexico. We must work hard to do the same in Canada’s poultry, dairy and egg markets.”
The day of agricultural-focused stops included a tour of USDA-funded projects in the state’s urban areas. Senator Carper toured the Ed Robinson Urban Farm on 12th and Brandywine, the Southbridge Community and Youth Garden in the Southbridge neighborhood of the city, and Planting Hope Urban Farm at the Herman Holloway Campus of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services in New Castle. These garden tours were hosted by the University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension program and highlighted the importance of USDA funding in supporting urban agriculture projects in Delaware. The day also included a stop at Union Ridge Farms in Townsend, owned by Norman and Gwen Pierce, recipients of the 2015 New Castle Conservation District’s Cooperator of the Year Award. The Pierces raise Boer goats and have implemented a conservation plan that addresses concerns with soil, water, air, plants, and animal resources through technical and financial assistance from the USDA and the New Castle Conservation District.
Yesterday, Senators Carper and Chris Coons (D-Del.), along with their colleagues, sent a letter to President Trump expressing strong concerns over recent actions that would have negative impacts on families in rural America. A PDF of the letter is available here.
Last Friday, Sen. Carper visited the Baxter Farm in Georgetown to learn how Jay Baxter and his family-run farming operation incorporate conservation practices with help from the NRCS.