U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee leaders Pat Roberts, R-KS, and Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, took advantage of February’s congressional recess to discuss the 2018 Farm Bill with midwestern farmers at a field hearing. Stabenow expressed hopes for shielding the 2018 Farm Bill from unnecessary budget cuts, especially in light of the committee’s voluntary cuts to the agricultural side of the bill during the 2014 Farm Bill.
At the event, the senators were able to hear first hand how important Farm Bill programs are for America’s farmers:
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Kansas Association of Wheat Growers President Kenneth Wood cited the destruction of his farm near Chapman, Kansas, last year as an example of why the federal crop insurance program needs to be protected.
“For most of us, crop insurance will not guarantee a good year, but it offers the promise of another year,” Wood said.
The importance of crop insurance, as part of a safety net for farmers, was mentioned by several of the producers who testified.
“The hurt in farm country is real,” said freshman Rep. Roger Marshall in opening remarks at the hearing.
Marshall, a Republican, represents Kansas’ sprawling “Big First” congressional district, which covers roughly the western two-thirds of the state.
“For me, the downturn in the ag economy we all hear about becomes very real when I see the Kansas Farm Management Association reporting that net farm income in Kansas was less than $6,000 in 2015,” Marshall said. “I cant imagine trying to raise a family on that income level. We know these levels will fall in 2016, and unless something drastically different happens, they’re going to fall even lower in 2017.”