East Lansing ---- Michigan's agriculture sector is growing. But some food producers think there are some hurdles standing in the way of their expanding industry.
And that's what U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow hopes to address in the 2012 Farm Bill. Today was day one of hearings on the bill. It's a business that many outsiders don't understand but rely on every single day.
Senator Stabenow is the Chair of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry committee. Along with colleague, Sen. Pat Roberts (R) Kansas, they held a hearing in East Lansing on the upcoming farm bill.
"It's a national security issue," said Sen. Roberts. "Show me a country that can't sustain itself in regards to its food supply and I'll show you a country that's wavering and having problems."
More than a dozen witnesses testified on increasing research opportunities, access to credit and price protection for crops.
"Farmers need stability," said Clark Gerstacker, a corn and soybean farmer. "The farm bill is not for the 2 percent of the population that farms. It’s for the 2 percent to provide for the 98 percent that relies on us.”
With the world population expected to increase to nearly nine billion in the next few decades, producers want the comprehensive 5-year plan in place so that global food demand can be met.
"With the safety net we want with the farm bill, the prices would still drop but producers would get a direct payment from the federal government," said Ken Nobis, president of the Michigan Milk Producers Association.
Tuesday was just the beginning of testimony from an ever-expanding, trillion dollar industry.