U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Great Bend, is hopeful the House Agriculture Committee can get a 2018 farm bill done this fall.
As a member of the Agriculture Committee, Marshall recently attended public forums in Florida, Texas and Minnesota aimed at getting input on the next farm bill. Four hundred to five hundred people came out to the events, he said.
Agriculture represents 60 percent of the economy in the 1st District, so the farm bill, written every five years, “is a very important bill for Kansas,” Marshall said in a teleconference Thursday afternoon. He will conduct a 10-stop farm bill listening tour in the 1st District in August, including stops in this region.
During the teleconference, Marshall described what he’s hearing:
Low prices: It’s obvious that depressed prices for wheat, corn and cattle “are stressing” producers as well as bankers and Main Street businesses, he said.
Trade: “NAFTA is the number one concern with trade, and agriculture is pretty happy with it,” he said. There is excitement about the opening up in China for U.S. beef exports but concerns about the enforcement of existing trade agreements.
Crop insurance: Farmers are emphasizing “how important that is to stay in business,” he said.
Immigration: “People are desperate for workers,” he said. The top concern is the number of unfilled jobs. A simpler, more comprehensive work visa is desired, he said.
Conservation: “I don’t know that we need a whole lot more acres in CRP (Conservation Reserve Program),” he said. He has benefitted from CRP and it is great for hunting, he said. However, he does not think the government has the budget to increase acres.
Administration: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is engaged in development of the farm bill.
USDA: Senate confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominees, in general, has been very slow. That is a “huge problem” for key executive positions within the department, he said.