Senate Agriculture Committee heads gear up for first farm bill field hearing

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Lawmakers are cooking up a new farm bill. The wide ranging agriculture legislation is crucial for farmers across the United States, so senators in charge of crafting the bill are headed out into the field.

Senator Roberts (R-KS) says you cannot put together a farm bill without first sitting down with farmers.

“Yes, we’ll have a farm bill. Yes, we can get it done on time,” said Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS).

Sowing the seeds of new legislation. Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, heads to his home state to hold a hearing on the next farm bill. His goal is to get it done with ample input from those it impacts.

“Before you do any bill, you have to sit down and talk with farmers,” said Roberts. “What’s working with the current bill, what isn’t? They’re worried about the trade policy and they’re worried about stockpiles of grain still sitting on the ground.”

Roberts says the trade intentions of the new administration could crush Kansas farmers if they cannot push product abroad as easily.

“They’re the ones that brought the president home,” said Roberts. “So why would you have a policy on trade that would be counterproductive to the folks that actually elected you?”

The head Democrat on the committee Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) says this new farm bill needs to continue protecting farmers so they can remain competitive in the marketplace. She says they have heard positive things about the current bill, but some aspects need changing.

“We have to listen to all of that and then come back and put our heads together to create a bill that works for everybody,” said Stabenow.

She says there is an urgency to strengthen safety nets for farmers because of price drops. She also says addressing the needs of each region individually is a must before crafting the next bill.

“This will take some time because this is a very big bill,” said Stabenow. “It’s a whole economic development strategy for small towns and rural America.”

Following the hearing in Kansas, the committee will hold the next one in East Lansing, Michigan.

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