Producers lay out priorities for next farm bill

Current Farm Bill expires in September, next one will last five years
Published: Jun. 4, 2023 at 9:31 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lawmakers are discussing what changes need to be made on the next farm bill as the current one expires in three months.

With inflation, drought conditions and everything else producers have weathered the last five years, many in the agriculture industry want lawmakers to know what should change this time around to help them do their jobs.

A producer in our area, Lloyd Arthur from Crosby County, said one thing that does need to stay is crop insurance.

“Last year we suffered through a drought, this year we’ve got some flooding rains, and crop insurance has been able to keep us afloat,” Arthur said.

Arthur would like to see an increase in reference and base loan prices.

“We’re working right now at a base loan price on cotton of 52 cents. Back in ‘73 I looked it up and it was 19 cents,” Arthur said. “So, we haven’t moved forward to take over that inflation or inflated price.”

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Lubbock Congressman Jodey Arrington said he will come alongside the Ag committee to make sure it has the resources to make necessary changes. He said those prices do need to be looked at because the market looks much different now.

“That’s why we do a farm bill every five years, because the market realities change,” Congressman Arrington said.

Still, Congressman Arrington said the farm bill is there for producers in extraordinary circumstances.

“We also have to calibrate it so that farmers, that only the most effective, most responsible, most productive Ag producers are in the farming business,” Congressman Arrington said.

With recent drought conditions, Arthur said a risk management tool is critical.

“Build a disaster program that we’ve had in the past into that base line, and have it there knowing that those programs would be there instead of having to have an ad hoc program that are always controversial,” Arthur said.

The president of the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Arthur Uhl, said those risk management programs are important because the cattle industry depends on those crops. He adds the farm bill needs to include a vaccine bank since a disease outbreak could be catastrophic.

“Animal health is critical to our food supply and especially the agriculture producers,” Uhl said.

Uhl said there have been talks to add a separate chapter for cattle in the farm bill. While it could bring more benefits, he said it’s not worth the risk.

“But it could also be used as a section for the regulation of livestock as opposed to crops,” Uhl said.

Congressman Arrington said over-regulation is something to look out for.

“You always have to keep a watchful eye on regulators going beyond the laws that we pass in congress,” Congressman Arrington said.

Uhl said the farm bill is important to all Americans because it helps keep food and clothes at a reasonable price and readily available.

The current one is set to expire in September and the next bill will last for five years.