Farm Bill negotiations over funding, nutrition and crop insurance ramp up

As 2023 Farm Bill negotiations continue to ramp up, some Congressional lawmakers say the legislation faces an uphill battle. 

“Things are moving slower than, I think, what all of us had planned at the beginning of the year.”

Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer, a Republican on the Senate Ag Committee, tells Brownfield the budget is a concern and if there’s an increase in reference prices, then there will need to be cuts.  “You can’t expect to increase payments for nutrition programs or increase the number of people on nutrition programs and not make increases for ag producers in those farm programs.”

Nebraska’s Congressional delegation met with state commodity groups and other stakeholders Monday for several farm bill listening sessions.  

Congressmen Don Bacon, a member of the House Ag Committee, says lawmakers likely removed the biggest hurdle by agreeing on work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program when the debt ceiling was increased.  “That was going to be the biggest point of contention, and I think it’s already off the table. They already debated it for two months and they came up with a handshake deal.”

Senator Pete Ricketts says he’s prioritizing keeping chocolate milk in schools after USDA proposed a ban on the product due to concerns about childhood obesity. “Sometimes these (young people) that’s the only solid meal that they’re getting all day.  We want them to have a healthy meal that involves dairy that’s a part of having strong bones.  This is a huge mistake.”

Congressman Adrian Smith says the farm bill needs to include programs and funding that help increase productivity for producers.  “We want the agility for producers to be able to innovate for the future, hopefully smooth things out economically for themselves and to also constantly be thinking about the future.”

Congressman Mike Flood says he’s working to secure funding to add more researchers to a USDA precision ag research facility at the University of Nebraska’s Innovation Campus.  “To find ways to grow corn with less water, apply the right amount of nitrogen, do what we can every step of the way to protect the environment and make sure our farmers and ranchers are profitable.”

Members of the delegation were mixed on if the Farm Bill would be extended after the September 30th deadline.  

  • There needs to be a work component and drug testing in order to qualify for food assistance through USDA. Farmers need to have the flexibility of planting crops of their choosing based on market conditions. Crop insurance may work in some places but there is a lot of fraud in the program. There needs to be a serious push for meaningful compliance measure in crop insurance.

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