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Chairwoman Stabenow Opening Statement at Arkansas Farm Bill Field Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today released the following opening statement at the hearing titled: “2023 Farm Bill: Perspectives From The Natural State”. Live video of the hearing is available here.

Stabenow’s statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

Good morning. I am delighted to join Ranking Member Boozman here in Arkansas as we begin the process to write the next farm bill. Thank you to our hosts, Arkansas State University, Go Red Wolves! And I can’t leave out Senator Boozman’s beloved Razorbacks! Thank you also to all of our witnesses who have taken the time to be here with us today.

It is such a pleasure to have Senator Boozman as my partner on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. It is a privilege to lead the committee with him, and to deliver for farmers, families and rural communities here in Arkansas, in my home state of Michigan, and across the country.

Together we’re working hard to put bipartisanship and civility at the center of everything we do. That may not mean we agree on everything, but we do more than we don’t, and growing that common ground is the key to getting a Farm bill that provides farmers and ranchers the certainty they need, keeps food on the table, and invests in our small towns. That’s how the most recent Farm Bill passed with the strongest bipartisan support ever, And that’s what Senator Boozman and I are building here today.

It was a real pleasure to have him at our first hearing at Michigan State University, my alma mater, in April. It was great to showcase Michigan agriculture and broad diversity of crops and our rural communities—and most importantly to listen to what’s working and what’s not working in the Farm Bill. I’m looking forward to learning more about what makes Arkansas special here today.

I want to hear more about what rice and cotton farmers are seeing on the ground, and hear about your work to support small towns and rural communities, and I'm hoping for some Arkansas catfish for lunch! I had the honor to meet many of our witnesses over breakfast this morning. You might not think so, but there’s a lot of similarities between Michigan and Arkansas.

We have about the same number of farms, our farm economies are roughly the same size, our states are both leaders in innovative mass timber construction, and our farmers are passionate about conserving habitat for ducks and other wildlife because both of our states have booming outdoor recreation economies.

As we think about the 2023 Farm Bill we know it means a strong safety net for farmers and families, incentives for farmers to do conservation in more ways that work for their farms, healthy local and regional food systems that provide markets for what farmers grow, support for research and trade opportunities, and investments in our quality of life in the rural communities so many of us call home

I look forward to hearing ideas from our witnesses today on how we can be more effective. We want to hear what’s working and what’s not … and in particular, how we can help you tackle the challenges you face.