BROKEN BOW—Congressman Adrian Smith made his way to Custer County on Tuesday as part of the Farm Bill Listening Tour, bringing with him a message of hope for the bill which he believes should focus on feeding the hungry. Joining him at the Cobblestone Hotel was Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach.
“So this is the very beginning of the whole farm bill debate and conversation and Adrian is really very early in the process which I think gives him an advantage to be able to, you know, start beginning some discussions and steering discussions in D.C. I think the fact that he is holding these listening sessions also gives Nebraska producers an advantage to be engaged in the commodity organizations on a national basis to try to influence those discussions so that they benefit Nebraska farmers and ranchers as well,” Ibach said.
The two expressed to the full conference room that the Farm Bill process begins about a year or two before the current legislation expires, giving stakeholders a chance to develop and share their views and proposals.
Those in attendance expressed their concerns of high health care premiums, tax reform, crop insurance, nutrition, infrastructure, and trade. Congressman Smith said that some of the biggest challenges regarding the farm bill include maintaining crop insurance, the dollar contained and spent in the nutrition title commodity programs, and bilateral trade.
Congressman Smith said he and other members of Congress are trying to multitask in dealing with the ongoing burden of health care premiums and the complexity of the tax code. He said tax reform will not be achieved through the next Farm Bill and vice versa, but that they are working on both to better suit the needs of their constituents.
The future of the next farm bill legislation is likely to cause a divide in Washington based on a geographic split due to differences in crops rather than party affiliation, according to the congressman.
As founder and co-chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus, Smith said on Tuesday that the ultimate goal is to help feed the world in dealing with the Farm Bill as well as other concerns such as Waters of the U.S., a bilateral trade agreement with Japan, rural broadband, and lower tariffs.
“[Goal of the caucus is] to really focus on new ways of doing things, taking the research that is being applied out across the ag economy and ultimately benefiting consumers. We don’t celebrate enough that we have had record yields amidst a drought, that we can help feed the world and prevent hunger and starvation and hopefully see some prosperous moments here,” Congressman Smith said.