Congress begins work on next Farm Bill

Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 12:32 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2022 at 6:56 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The initial steps for deciding the next five years of U.S. agriculture policy is underway.

Ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee John Boozman, R-AR, will play a significant role in the process. He is currently touring farms to ask farmers what they need.

Boozman said a better safety net for crops is a top priority.

“They spend all the money to get it planted, and maybe they have crop failure because of drought,” Boozman said. “We’ve experienced so much throughout the country.”

A new Farm Bill is passed every five years. The previous Farm Bill expires in September of 2023.

The National Farmers Union said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the issue of farmers not having enough control over getting their products to market.

“Because of corporate monopolies in the middle of the food chain, we didn’t have a lot of marketing options for farmers when tough times hit,” National Farmers Union VP of Advocacy Mike Stranz said. “When the pandemic upended supply and demand.”

Boozman and the NFU both said high input costs for items like fertilizer and gasoline are hurting the industry.

Boozman also said the next Farm Bill should also focus on conservation and innovation to protect farmers from severe weather.

“The research dollars that we put into the Farm Bill, scientists are discovering different strains of crops that are more drought tolerant,” Boozman said.

The NFU says the next farm bill needs to address production, distribution and attract a lot of support. Stanz said that will help the agriculture industry, and ultimately customers, when prices on store shelves are lower.

“We need to protect our food supply. We need to have a competitive agriculture economy,” Stanz said. “So by having this big, broad coalition, we’ll all be better off with a stronger farm bill.”

Boozman says lawmakers will continue learning about differences in regional needs from farmers throughout the country before crafting any legislation.