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Farm bill framework delivers for agriculture producers


I’ve talked with farmers, ranchers and agriculture industry stakeholders in our state and across the country to gather their input and priorities for the next farm bill. Now we’ve put those ideas on paper and are making progress toward passage of this crucial legislation.
The House Agriculture Committee approved a bipartisan farm bill last month that meets the needs of farmers, ranchers, foresters, rural communities and consumers across America. Republicans on the Senate Agriculture Committee are building on that momentum with the release of our own farm bill framework in recent days.
Our plan supplies additional resources for the tools farmers rely upon, and are calling for us to invest in, while ensuring we promote new markets and research in addition to protecting nutrition programs and conservation practices.
Arkansas farmers have been able to point to their positive trade balance in agriculture as a source of pride for the better part of the last 50 years as they worked to feed, clothe and fuel the world. Unfortunately, this administration’s refusal to engage on the issue has created an agricultural trade imbalance that is projected to reach record heights and is showing no signs of slowing.
We increase funding for the farm bill’s premiere trade programs to help increase our competitiveness overseas.
University of Arkansas System Vice President for Agriculture Dr. Deacue Fields testified before the committee in 2022 about the importance of agriculture research.
Agricultural research programs spur innovation and productivity allowing farmers to produce more while using less and in an environmentally friendly manner, even as threats from pests, diseases and unpredictable weather become more common.
Our framework represents a strong commitment to supporting that work.
I’ve been blessed to see how Natural State research is shaping the industry. Under the GOP proposal, agricultural research funding would double, which would be welcome news for our land-grant institutions and colleges of agriculture that conduct groundbreaking research. I’m particularly pleased to advocate for continuation of the 1890 National Scholars Program, which would directly impact the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
We also make a historic investment in the conservation title while ensuring programs remain locally-led and flexible. Our plan increases funding in the conservation title with a focus on empowering producers to make the best decisions to meet the resource concerns of their operations.
More than half of Arkansas counties lost population according to the last census. These communities must have the modern infrastructure necessary to attract and retain talent. Our framework offers help to rural areas by making significant investments in small business development, broadband expansion, water and energy infrastructure programs, as well as funds to increase access to rural healthcare, childcare and public safety.
Most importantly, we are putting more farm in the farm bill by guaranteeing a modernized farm safety net so we can deliver access to risk management tools that reflect the nature of the challenges our producers are operating under.
Our farmers, ranchers, foresters, consumers, lenders and other stakeholders helped us fashion a farm bill that meets their varying needs.
The agriculture committee has demonstrated we can come together to tackle important legislation. I have been proud to partner with Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to shepherd significant reforms into law on priority issues, particularly in the climate and nutrition spaces. There is no reason we can’t harness the same spirit of bipartisanship and advance a bill that supports our farmers and rural communities.
I look forward to taking our two frameworks, forging a bipartisan farm bill and passing it into law.