The farm bill is a critically important piece of legislation that sets agriculture policy in our country for about five years at a time, meaning every five years or so, it is Congress’ responsibility to craft and then ultimately pass a new – and hopefully improved – version to provide our farmers with the certainty they need.
As you may know, over the summer, the House and Senate both passed our versions of the new farm bill, and I was proud to support our bill in the House. Now, it is up to select members of the House and Senate to conference and work out the differences between our two pieces of legislation. I am glad to report that this process is underway, and I’m hopeful the Conference Committee will agree on a final product soon, as the September 30th deadline for the expiration of the current law is quickly approaching.
In Alabama’s Second District, agriculture is the largest employer, so we fully understand how very important it is that Congress get this policy right. Agriculture legislation doesn’t just affect the farmer who puts the seed in the ground. We’re also affecting the ones who sell the seed, who build the equipment to cultivate and harvest the crop, and those who help process the goods to their final products.
In Congress, I consider it one of my top responsibilities to be a strong voice for our farmers and to represent their concerns. That’s why I’m pleased that in the House, our version of the farm bill addresses many of the issues that the hardworking farmers in AL-02 have told me they face, including reducing regulatory burdens, addressing invasive species like feral hogs, maintaining the crop insurance program, and more.
In addition to these important priorities, the House’s version of the farm bill authorizes substantial funding for rural broadband and implements strict work requirements for food stamp recipients.
Since the Senate is currently bound by a 60-vote threshold to pass legislation, their farm bill is quite different than our version in the House. That said, the final farm bill that ultimately comes out of the Conference Committee will very likely be a combination of both versions.
No matter what differences exist between the two chambers, Alabama’s farmers and producers deserve a strong, consistent, improved, and on-time farm bill to plan for the future. I will remain actively engaged with my colleagues on the Conference Committee to deliver agriculture policy that gives fair treatment to our Alabama commodities, like cotton, peanuts, timber, poultry, soybeans, and catfish. We’ve come too far to not get this done.
Our farmers produce the food and fiber that we all depend on, and it is our responsibility to move forward with strong, commonsense policy that enables them to do their jobs. I am looking forward to sending the final farm bill to the President’s desk, and I will keep you informed on developments.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.