Senator Dick Durbin looks to fight for good and sensible farm policies

Four-term U.S. Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin looks to defend his seat this November.

Durbin, a Democrat, says he has seen both good and bad policies come up during Farm Bill negotiations. Although, there is one thing the committee has zeroed in on-- crop insurance.

According to Durbin, “Farmers pay a premium and they do it willingly, but there is also a massive federal subsidy of this crop insurance program, but it turns out that the combination of the two, the payments by the farmers, by the ranchers, and others and the payment by the federal government has created a system with reliability and one more and more farmers want to see extended. Can we make it better in the future, of course we can, and we are going to debate exactly how to do it.”

He says that farmers have changed their attitude about climate change and are ready for more meaningful environmental policy in the next Farm Bill.

“There was a time when I would ask farmers who visited my office, ‘do you believe that what we do as humans on this earth makes a difference in terms of extreme weather or all the things we’re reading about?’ and none of them did,” the Senator said. “It’s changed, they are now engaged in the conversation, ‘what can we do in terms of environmental stewardship on farm?’ and secondly, ‘is there profitability built into this?’”

He says that he takes a more bipartisan approach to trade policy and is supportive of the administration’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. While the Phase One China Deal brought excitement to farm country, his constituents say that the impact of the trade war hit their bottom line.

“The farmers I talk to in Illinois, they’ve seen a very dramatic cut back in farm income in a very short period of time. There are lots of reasons for it, our policy on ethanol is one of them. I think the President was wrong when it came to these small refinery waivers and secondly, the trade battles, these trade battles take a toll on our farmers. They work for generations to build up a reputation of reliability and quality which can disappear in a political cat fight,” he said. “So, we’ve got to get back to real aggressive trade policies that give us a chance to compete, I’m confident we will win that competition.”

After a lengthy review process, the EPA did reject 54 ethanol gap year waivers, but biofuels groups still say more is needed from the government to support the industry.

Durbin also says that rural communities need strong healthcare to be successful. One effort he is very proud of is the SIREN Act, a grant program for ambulances.

He serves as the Democratic Whip, the second highest ranking position among the Senate Democrats.

For full interview, click HERE.