Dec 17 2018
Positive Senate Outcome Followed Months of Negotiations
The Senate has passed the “Agriculture Improvement Act,” sending to President Trump a bill that empowers our farmers to continue feeding and clothing our nation and the world. This comprehensive legislation, commonly known as the Farm Bill, reauthorizes $867 billion over the next five years to support critical programs for our farmers, low-income Americans, and rural communities.
Although the bill’s negotiations were tough, the outcome was the right one for Mississippi farmers. It was imperative for lawmakers to pass this bill before the end of the year and the start of a new Congress. In the end, the bill earned overwhelming support in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
U.S. Farmers & Food Security
The value of the American farmer cannot be overstated. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, one farm can feed 165 people every year. Multiply this number by more than two million – the number of farms in America – and our farmers’ impact on the well-being of humanity becomes clear. Our state alone has more than 36,000 farms contributing to the production of the healthy food and fiber that sustain our families and our communities.
With so many lives relying on our agricultural growers and producers, Congress has a responsibility to enact policies encouraging their success. This Farm Bill does that by recognizing the risks our farmers face, such as hazardous weather and the volatility of global markets, both of which we have seen this year. It mitigates those challenges by strengthening the programs that give our farmers peace of mind when times get tough. This certainty is as important to the daily operations of a farm as it is to the overall food security of our nation. The Farm Bill also champions the long-term safety and vitality of our agricultural resources through responsible conservation practices.
Wins for Rural Broadband, Timber Innovation
Tying together the goals of predictability and stewardship is a provision I authored to promote rural broadband development. Included in the Farm Bill was my “Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act,” which aims to equip our farmers and ranchers with the connectivity they need. This technology can enable our farmers to be more competitive by producing more crops on less land for fewer dollars.
I was also pleased to see provisions from the “Timber Innovation Act” in the final version of the bill. These provisions are designed to advance cutting-edge research on timber and timber products. Our local universities are already finding new ways to use local timber – one of Mississippi’s most abundant natural resources – and expand market opportunities for our state’s foresters.
This multiyear reauthorization of the Farm Bill is a win for America’s heartland, giving the Department of Agriculture and the President the resources necessary to safeguard our farmers’ livelihoods amid often extreme and difficult circumstances.