Time is now to get farm bill deal done

Sen. John Thune

America needs farmers and ranchers. That’s a given in South Dakota, where agriculture is part of our way of life. South Dakotans know farming and ranching involve a lot of risk. For almost 100 years Congress has regularly passed a farm bill to back producers with programs and policies to mitigate that risk and to help them continue operating through tough times.

With the 2018 farm bill expiring last year, I’m glad we passed an extension of farm bill programs through 2024. But this is no substitute for a full and updated farm bill that equips farmers and ranchers with the improved tools they will need in the coming years. So Congress needs to focus on this important task.

One thing I consistently hear from farmers and ranchers around South Dakota is the importance of the farm safety net and the critical role that crop insurance, commodity, and livestock programs play in helping producers manage risk in their operations.

As we consider the next farm bill, I’m working to improve safety net programs to make sure they meet the current needs of producers and provide adequate assistance in a timely manner.

Since the last farm bill passed in 2018, farmers and ranchers have faced a number of serious challenges. Inflation has driven up farm production expenses by $100 billion. Last year we saw the largest decline in net cash farm income ever recorded, and farm input costs are projected to remain at a record high this year.

The Biden administration’s failure to promote trade and market access opportunities will also negatively impact American agriculture, as the United States is on track to post a record agricultural trade deficit this year. And recent disruptions to shipping in the Middle East may also roil markets that impact American farms and ranches.

With American agriculture set to face serious challenges in the coming years, passing a farm bill that supports farmers and ranchers can’t come a moment too soon. Unfortunately, my Democrat colleagues on the agriculture committee don’t seem to share this sense of urgency. This is evidenced by their apparent focus on including their Green New Deal priorities and other unrelated measures in the farm bill. I disagree—we need more farm in the farm bill, and we need to get it done sooner rather than later.

America’s farmers and ranchers can’t afford unnecessary delays or partisan exercises. It’s time to get the farm bill done, and get it done right. That means passing a bill that helps farmers and ranchers deal with the challenges they may face in the next few years. I will continue working to get a farm bill done in a timely manner that provides the support South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers need.

U.S. Sen. John Thune is a South Dakota Republican and a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.