Farm Bill Discussions: Producers tell ag leaders to get the show on the road

House Ag Committee Chair Glenn GT Thompson hosted a Farm Bill listening session in Texas to hear from farmers and ranchers about the issues they feel need to be addressed.

Representative Thompson started off the meeting.

“You don’t want us writing this Farm Bill, listening to voices inside the beltway of Washington. We need your voices at the table, and without a doubt, the most important part of the Farm Bill process is to hear and to listen from our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and processors.”

Trevor Beuerlein, a Texas Angus Rancher stressed the importance of crop insurance.

“Crop insurance remains agriculture’s best risk management tool. It’s imperative that Congress continue to protect the strong, effective crop insurance program, conservation and climate will undoubtably be part of Farm Bill discussions. Farm Credit believes that agriculture is part of the solution to mitigating the impacts of changing climates. As you look at the intersection of agriculture and environment, I ask that with any of the programs, you provide an involuntary, incentive-based tool for farmers and forest owners, promote private sector solutions, recognize the need for additional research and not require any additional decision on agriculture lending be based on farmers adopting certain conservation practices.”

Feeding Texas CEO, Celia Cole said the only way to fight hunger is through SNAP.

“SNAP is the biggest and most efficient tool we have for fighting hunger. In the broader ecosystem of hunger relief, it is doing the heavy lift for every meal that food banks put on the table, in Texas SNAP puts nine. So when you improve access to SNAP benefits, it obviously increases food security, but also reduces strain on other parts of the system. In contrast, when you cut benefits, it increases that strain. We encourage you to eliminate counterproductive work requirements for SNAP participants, and also encourage you to expand SNAP for low income college students because by helping students finish college, SNAP can actually be an effective tool for improving employment outcomes.”

G. Cliff Lamb of Texas A&M said we should look more into artificial intelligence and investments into infrastructure.

“We have an aging infrastructure, we need significant infrastructure investments into our agriculture research institutions, and we also need to continue to shore up our agriculture research opportunities through USDA in many ways, even on the competitive side. Texas imports more agriculture products than any other state through our borders and ports. Figuring out ways to utilize artificial intelligence to detect issues are extremely important and we want to lead those efforts. There is a lot of opportunity – when you take a look at the urban communities growing around, for us to continue to improve our production efficiency through controlled environment agriculture and any support in that realm is extremely important.”

Lastly, citrus farmer, Dale Murden made remarks regarding the specialty crop industry and recent challenges.

“The specialty crop industry is likely the most diverse sector in the ag industry. In our case, following a freeze like we had in 2021, growers needed the flexibility in order to do things like tree removal, in many instances replanting just didn’t make sense. Also, we need the ability to rehabilitate the older trees. This gets expensive but also gives us back in production game faster than planting a tree from scratch. The planting density for today’s standards needs adjusting. We simply plant more trees per acre now than the program allows. We ask that the AGI limit be waved to 75 percent or more income as derived from farming, similar to the 2002 Farm Bill model. High inputs and specialty crops really hamper us from participating in most programs. We need disaster assistance, better crop insurance policies, and we all need stability with our own water resources.”