Indiana Representative Jim Baird wants to prioritize the programs that support farmers

Early voting is underway across the country. On the ballot for Indiana’s 4th congressional district are Republican incumbent Jim Baird and Democratic challenger Joe Mackey. RFD-TV’s Emily Buck joined the candidates for a closer look at their policy goals for rural America.

Indiana Republican, Jim Baird is a Vietnam veteran with a doctorate in animal nutrition. On the hill, he serves on the House Ag Committee and says that his peers are becoming more aware of the industry.

“If the coronavirus and this pandemic did anything it made all of our legislators aware...,” Representative Baird states. “The fact that there wasn’t food on the food shelves in the grocery store impacted every legislator, and so, it called real attention to the fact that agriculture is an extremely, critical enterprise during these emergency situations.”

He says that the pandemic has also highlighted the need for better broadband access for telehealth.

According to Baird, “It has expedited... how much we can use it, how fast we can use it, and it certainly gives people that are maybe in the home an access to their physician or healthcare provider, and they don’t have to get out in the cold, they don’t have to make a trip, they are not exposed to other people and yet they have access to high caliber, high quality service. So, I’m a very strong advocate for promoting rural broadband.”

Looking ahead to the next Farm Bill, Congressman Baird says that it is important to prioritize the programs that support farmers.

He states, “We need to continue to monitor the things that have worked well, one of those being the CRP, the Conservation Reserve Program, and the CCC, keeping funding there so we can provide assistance to these farmers there through CFAP...”

He notes that risk management is important not only for farmers, but also for bankers and farm lenders.

For trade, Congressman Baird says that it is critical we understand China’s long-term goals for swine production and African swine fever recovery.

Numbers out in the last week show a record number of soy and corn purchases, with China now replacing Mexico as the top corn purchaser in the U.S.

“The African swine fever decimated their swine herds, it’s my understanding they are currently rebuilding those, and that’s okay but it means they are going to have demand for our corn and soybeans, until they establish that,” he adds. “That’s good for our short-term and maybe our long-term from the standpoint that we establish those relationships.”

Prior to serving in Congress, Baird was a county commissioner and says that investments in rural infrastructure must keep up with the needs of agriculture.

For the full interview, click HERE.

For more election coverage, click HERE.