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Representative Latta visits area farms PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, August 17, 2013 12:07 AM

Herald and Times Bulletin

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VENEDOCIA — Dan “Boomer” Bonifas and his wife, Janet, were ready for the visit from U.S. Representative Bob Latta Friday morning. They were joined on the family farm on Converse-Roselm Road by Dan’s parents, Richard “Bunny” and Dr. Jane Bonifas. The farm has been in the family for 142 years and six generations of Bonifases. They farm 400 acres and have 200 head of beef cattle.

Latta said he was using August as a work period to get out and talk with those he represents in agriculture.

 

“I have 14 counties and I represent the largest number of farmers in the state,” he said. “To do my job, I have to talk with the farmers and see what they need. A little less than one percent of the population of Ohio is on a farm and just a little under two percent are in the country and they provide food for the rest of the country and world. If we can’t provide our own food, we’re in trouble. The family farmer is the backbone of this country.”

 

Latta himself is no stranger to the farm, having been raised in an agricultural family. His wife’s family farms as well.

Dan opened the dialogue with Latta by voicing his concern about the recent portrayal of farmers.

“I’m worried about the image we have,” he explained. “We’re getting a bad reputation by what a few do. We raise and have a good, safe product.”

His mother agreed.

“This is our livelihood,” Dr. Bonifas said. “We want to see our farmland reach its potential. We care for the land and try to keep the soil rich and viable. We do what we can every year and it’s still a gamble.”

Janet wanted to make sure Latta knows the importance of what he and Congress do.

“I want him and others in Congress to be aware that every time they set a policy or pass legislation, it impacts the family farmer,” she said. “We have a lot invested in this — a lot of time and energy. I hate to see them legislate for those few who cause a problem. They should be legislating for everyone.”

The Bonifases, like most family farms, feel like they are drowning in regulations.

“There are $1.8 trillion of regulations on businesses, individuals and farmers in this country today,” Latta declared. “And people wonder why sometimes things get more expensive? You have to hire more people to figure out what the regulations are. There’s a real question about some of these regulations if they are even necessary. And have the regulators seen what those regulations would do out in the real world? I have asked them if they know the impact and they can’t tell me. They don’t go out there and see what is happening. There’s a disconnect.”

Latta mentioned the effort 18 months ago at making new safety rules for farms that would have kept farm kids from working on family farms.

“If it wasn’t for the American farmer mobilizing, they would have got that rule pushed on America. I’m not sure where we’d be in the future trying to keep kids on the farm!” Latta exclaimed. “It’s just absolutely horrendous what comes out of Washington. They write the rules and just say, ‘OK, you guys, just do it’.”

Latta toured the Bonifas farm, petting cattle and chatting about feed and new innovations implemented to keep livestock more comfortable and healthier.

A soybean field ran adjacent to one of the livestock barns and Bonifas was eager to show how good the crop looked this year.

“There’s a lot of pods on these plants,” he said. “They look really good. Now we just need them fill out and fill up with beans.”

Latta noted the difference between last year and this year and how the crops look.

“It’s good to travel through the countryside and see healthy crops,” he said.

Latta also visited the Heffelfinger Farms on Greenville Road in Van Wert and the Boeckman Farms and Mercer Landmark in Rockford on Friday.

At the Heffelfinger Farms, he was asked about progress on a new Farm Bill in Congress. The efforts to work out a new bill have yielded only slow progress but Latta said he was told by the House Agriculture Committee Chair that the work will continue.

“We’re on a one-year continuing resolution on the old Farm Bill, but we need a new Farm Bill because we want to get rid of things like direct payments, there’s $20 billion in cuts there, there’s $20 billion in cuts on the food and nutrition side,” revealed Latta. “This Farm Bill, as it was first proposed, only 20 percent will impact agriculture. The other 80 percent is on the food and nutrition side. It’s important to keep moving forward.

The Farm Bill was combined with food and nutrition legislation back in 1973 to get more support from urban districts. That support has been necessary. Although the farm side used to contain the majority of the attention, now it is the food and nutrition actions which compose most of the bill.

Last Updated on Saturday, August 17, 2013 12:41 AM
 

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