WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, released the following opening remarks, as prepared, from the hearing entitled Growing Jobs and Economic Opportunity: 2023 Farm Bill Perspectives from Michigan.
Good morning. I am delighted to join Chairwoman Stabenow here at Michigan State as we begin the process to write the next farm bill. I thank Michigan State University for hosting us this morning and for their hospitality.
Chairwoman Stabenow is a veteran of the farm bill process and understands the hard work it takes to pass this legislation. In fact, she and then-Chairman Pat Roberts were so effective, they ushered the current farm bill through the Senate with a record number of “yes” votes on the floor. I look forward to working with her as we craft a bipartisan proposal that meets the needs of farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, rural communities, and other beneficiaries and participants in USDA’s programs in Michigan, Arkansas and every other state.
As we kick off this process, we are in an unprecedented time to write a farm bill. Just thinking about the issues that we are confronting is daunting: a receding pandemic; a brutal war in the breadbasket of Europe; record high inflation; record high fertilizer and input prices; high crop prices; high food costs; labor shortages; drought; delayed planting; and transportation and supply chain bottlenecks.
The pandemic and Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine have exposed the vulnerabilities of our domestic and international supply chains. This requires us to rethink the nature of our relationships across the globe—strengthening bonds with countries who share similar values and minimize reliance on those who violate norms.
We have an opportunity in this farm bill to ensure we have in place the tools necessary to make American agriculture the trusted supplier for global markets. Farm bill programs and investments not only help American farmers continue to do what they have always done: provide the most abundant, lowest cost, and safest food supply in the world, they also help the developing world.
I have no doubt that our farmers and ranchers can meet the moment if given the right tools and the right conditions. The farm bill is our opportunity to do that.
I look forward to hearing from the two panels of witnesses the chairwoman has invited to testify today. Senator Stabenow is a strong advocate for you and reminds all of her colleagues about the tremendous diversity of agricultural production in Michigan.
I am excited to learn about this diversity and want to hear about the needs of Michigan’s farmers and rural communities.
What is working for you and your operations? What isn’t?
How can we make things easier for you to access the programs we have created?
How can the Department of Agriculture (USDA) be a partner to help strengthen your communities?
Are there things the federal government is doing that aren’t helping?
How can we protect and bolster the vital farm safety net?
Over the next year and a half, I look forward to hearing from all who are touched by USDA: our farmers, large and small, organic and conventional; our ranchers; our forestland owners; sportsmen and women; rural community leaders; and those assisted by our nutrition programs. These perspectives are critically important to ensure we get this right.
Again, I thank and congratulate Chairwoman Stabenow for kicking off the 2023 Farm Bill process and I am excited to hear from our witnesses.