(Washington, D.C., February 9, 2023) – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. questioned witnesses today during the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry’s second hearing on the 2023 Farm Bill, a five-year legislative package that is critical for providing support to Kansas’ agriculture industry. Today’s hearing focused on the Farm Bill’s commodity programs, crop insurance, and credit titles of the Farm Bill. Senator Marshall used his time stress the importance of the farm safety net programs for not only production agriculture but also its importance in keeping food affordable for Americans. Senator Marshall also gained the commitment of Zach Ducheneaux, Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, to make technical changes to current law to ensure ranchers who suffer from wildfire losses outside the normal grazing season can be compensated under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP). In December 2021, Kansas was met with strong and damaging winds that produced dust storms and multiple wildfires. An estimated 163,000 acres burned on the first day wildfires spawned due to dry fuel and strong wind gusts reaching up to 100 mph. Unfortunately, ELAP was unable to cover the damages to the pasture land because of USDA regulations.
Senator Marshall began his remarks by emphasizing that this hearing on crop insurance is the hearing that will have the most impact on Kansans, saying in part,
“…This is the number one farm bill hearing we’re going to have for producers in Kansas. I have no doubt without crop insurance, without title I funding, many farmers would be out of business… crop insurance and Title I funding are working to keep cost of food down… without crop insurance, without Title I funding, that budget would be the roof as well that allows farmers to stay in production allowing them to produce next years crop…”
Senator Marshall questioned Administrator Ducheneaux on ELAP Programs, asking if he supports adjusting the regulations or statute to insure future losses of nature are covered. Mr. Duchenaeaux responded in part,
“We would sure welcome an opportunity to engage on some technical assistance on that to make sure we got it right, had a chance to get out and visit a couple of those effected ranches out in that part of the country and it was devastating…we have to do a better job on this and we look forward to working with your team.”
On work from home policies at the Federal Crop Insurance Board, Senator Marshall said in part,
“One of the strengths of the federal crop insurance program is that it is designed to be flexible to farmer needs and is a big tent meant to provide an opportunity for coverage for all types of farmers in all regions of the country. However, the Federal Crop Insurance Board that is tasked with reviewing and approving these new and improved policies has been short-handed since early in this Administration’s tenure and are still operating virtually.”
Background on the Farm Bill:
On February 1, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held their first hearing on the 2023 Farm Bill, discussing the trade and horticulture titles. Senator Marshall used his time during this hearing gathering witness testimony on market access for American agriculture products. You may click HERE to watch Senator Marshall’s full remarks and witness questions.
The original Farm Bill – The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) was a federal law passed in 1933 as part of U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The law offered farmers subsidies in exchange for limiting their production of certain crops. The subsidies were meant to limit overproduction so that crop prices could increase. This was so farmers wouldn’t go out of business and then ultimately not produce enough food for the U.S. Today, along with crop prices, the Farm Bill authorizes federal programs related to conservation, trade, crop insurance, and nutrition