Photo by George Lauby
Agriculture is the lifeblood of Nebraska’s economy. The industry faces many challenges, from low commodity prices to damaging fires and drought, which reinforce the need to ensure we are doing all we can in Congress to provide certainty in agriculture policy.The next Farm Bill is scheduled for 2019.
As we prepare to draft this important legislation, it is crucial to hear directly from producers about their ideas and concerns.
Earlier this year, I made stops in Scottsbluff and Aurora on my Farm Bill Listening Tour. At these open forums, Third District producers talked with me about what they feel is or is not working in the current Farm Bill. I appreciated their input and perspective, and I have already started communicating their feedback to some of my colleagues in Congress.
I am holding more Farm Bill listening sessions in August: Broken Bow on Tuesday, Aug. 1, Beatrice on Thursday, Aug. 3, and South Sioux City on Wednesday, Aug. 23.
Any interested Third District residents are invited to participate, and Nebraska Director of Agriculture Greg Ibach will also be in attendance.
More information on locations and times for these sessions is available on my website at AdrianSmith.house.gov/FarmBillTour.
The Farm Bill covers a broad range of agriculture policies, including commodity programs, crop insurance, conservation, farm credit, rural development, and foreign and domestic food assistance.
Our ultimate goal should be to create policies which strengthen American agriculture and provide the long-term stability needed to maintain our standing as the world leader in this industry. Producers also need a workable bill which offers tools for responsible risk management.
The next Farm Bill is another opportunity to strengthen these vital commitments.
One topic which came up repeatedly at my Scottsbluff and Aurora sessions is the importance of crop insurance.
The 2014 Farm Bill had bipartisan agreement on strengthening crop insurance, encouraging producers to invest in efficiency enhancements while reducing the likelihood emergency disaster spending will be needed.
We must continue to support this successful public-private partnership, and through it, the producers who manage risk.
Others who attended stressed the importance of opening new markets to sell our agriculture products. This remains one of my top priorities as a member of the Ways and Means Committee.
Jason Perdue, a young farmer from York and president of the York County Farm Bureau, testified before the committee July 18 on the benefits to Nebraska producers under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
His willingness to share his expertise was greatly appreciated. I will continue to communicate the importance of agriculture trade to the Trump administration and my colleagues in Congress to assist producers in doing what they do best – feeding the world.
As co-chairman of both the Modern Agriculture Caucus and the Congressional Rural Caucus, I am focused on bridging the gap between urban and rural to help more people understand how the health of the agriculture industry impacts all Americans.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my Farm Bill Listening Tour and hope to see you in August.