The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee heard from farmers and ranchers Thursday afternoon, hosting a farm bill field hearing at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. The hearing featured panels of farmers giving input on what they feel needs to happen with the next farm bill. The panel members consistently told lawmakers farm bill funding levels need maintained, or even increased, after the 2014 farm bill featured $23 billion worth of funding cuts.
Before the panel testimony got underway, Committee Chairman, Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts laid out the road ahead for the next farm bill…
“All of agriculture is struggling, not just one or two commodities, we must write a bill that works across our entire nation. At the same time our government is spending money it doesn’t have, our national debt exceeds $19 trillion dollars. Agriculture, and specifically the farm bill, has answered the call to do more with less. Farmers and ranchers pull themselves up from their boot straps, they understand fiscal responsibility.
Therefore, we must be judicious with the scarce resources that we have, we must ensure programs achieve their fundamental purpose, we must ask relevant questions, and re-examine programs to determine their effectiveness.”
Ranking Democrat on the committee, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, says it’s time to address the needs of farmers and ranchers…
“I think our Senate Agriculture Committee members agree that we need to focus on the needs and farmers and rural communities in the next farm bill, not arbitrary cuts. We, in fact, created savings in the last farm bill, w’er the only ones that offered up savings $23billion in cuts in our own areas on the committee. Now, I think, it’s important that we address the needs that farmers, ranchers and others have.”
She points out that the current farm bill has a total estimated savings of nearly $100 billion, but those savings cannot be transferred into funding in the next farm bill.
More field hearings are on the schedule and Roberts says the committee also has an email form online to gather input from farmers and ranchers on farm bill programs and considerations for the next farm bill…
“Please go to ag.senate.gov, that’s pretty easy, even I can do that, ag-dot-senate-dot-gov, click on the ‘farm bill hearing’ box on the left side of your screen. You can send us your own input for the committee to consider as we write the next farm bill. Want to hear from you. Want to hear your advice, your counsel, and your suggestions.”
The committee will hold its second farm bill field hearing in Michigan.