U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) —a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry— delivered remarks during the first meeting of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee.
Boozman stressed the importance of providing certainty and predictability for farmers, ranchers and all rural Americans.
“A few weeks ago, I traveled across Arkansas and heard firsthand from farmers. For Arkansans, the message was clear – pass a meaningful Farm Bill. We must do right by our farmers, ranchers, foresters, rural Americans, taxpayers, tribes, retailers, and consumers, and hammer out the remaining differences to send a workable Farm Bill to the President’s desk,” Boozman said.
The following are Boozman’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Chairmen, Ranking Members, and fellow Conferees, I am pleased to be here at the first meeting of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee. Several months ago, many folks doubted that we would actually be here finalizing the 2018 Farm Bill. But here we are, working in regular order, in a bipartisan fashion to provide certainty and predictability for our farmers, ranchers, and rural Americans.
With net farm income half of what it was five years ago, farmers and ranchers are experiencing the most fragile farm economy since the 1980s. In both chambers, we have crafted policies, not to make the good times better, but to make the tough times bearable.
But, we are not without our differences.
I am deeply concerned that the ‘actively engaged’ eligibility provisions included in the Senate bill will only exacerbate the pain being felt throughout rural America by arbitrarily excluding some farmers from Title I programs.
This is often characterized as a regional difference, but let me be clear – this provision does not discriminate against regions, it discriminates against farmers and those who feed and clothe this nation. It will hurt family farms across the country and in each one of your states and districts.
‘Actively engaged’ requirements have been around since 1987, and in the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress included provisions that further tightened program eligibility. We have not yet seen the full effects from that.
I have concerns that this is a policy that no farmer has asked for, that has not been publicly debated, nor thoroughly vetted. I think that the House did a much better job in this regard.
Throughout this bill, there are several areas where we have the opportunity to truly make a difference.
A few weeks ago, I traveled across Arkansas and heard firsthand from farmers.
For Arkansans, the message was clear – pass a meaningful Farm Bill. We must do right by our farmers, ranchers, foresters, rural Americans, taxpayers, tribes, retailers, and consumers, and hammer out the remaining differences to send a workable Farm Bill to the President’s desk.
I look forward to working with you to achieve this goal.
Senator John Boozman release
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