Agriculture accounts for nearly one-quarter of Arkansas’s economic activity. One out of every six jobs in Arkansas is tied, either directly or indirectly, to agriculture. Arkansas farmers, ranchers and loggers work 33 million acres across the Natural State.
If we had to survive solely on food grown in state, you wouldn’t have trouble finding variety. We are among the nation’s top ten producers of rice, chicken, catfish, turkey, soybeans, and eggs. We could also conceivably cloth and shelter ourselves from fiber grown in Arkansas as we are 3rd in the nation in cotton production and 5th in the nation in timber production.
These statistics underscore the important need to ensure our national agriculture policy protects Arkansas’s farmers, ranchers and loggers.
That is why it is so important that we complete the reauthorization of the farm bill.
The farm bill defines and authorizes funding for agriculture’s safety net. Programs authorized by this law are vital to ensuring that we do not become dependent on other countries for our food supply—in the vein that we have of our energy needs—and allow Arkansas’s family farms to compete in a high risk and heavily subsidized global marketplace.
In the last session of Congress, the Senate passed a farm bill that would have created an untested, one-size-fits-all plan as a replacement for direct support payments to producers. While almost all agree direct support payments are no longer viable, this proposal fell short of the protection southern farmers would need against multi-year price declines.
The version of the farm bill introduced in the Senate this session of Congress is a much more equitable approach to providing a safety net for all crops and regions of the country. It’s a step in the right direction as we work to protect vulnerable agriculture producers throughout the nation. We will continue to seek improvements and enhance efficiency in the final product, but I’m optimistic that we can find a solution that both chambers of Congress can support.
The House Agriculture Committee is working on its version of the farm bill and I fully believe we can build the consensus necessary to usher a compromise through the legislative process.
The delicate compromise of the Farm Bill is meaningless unless our farmers have markets for their products. Pending trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama will open new markets for Arkansas farmers so I will be working to ratify those while I am serving you in the U.S. Senate.
While opening new markets is one way that the federal government can help Arkansas’s farmers, over-regulating is one way it can harm them. This is why I have fought against programs like a National Animal Identification system or an increased mandate of fuel production from food based commodities such as corn, the latter of which creates an artificial demand for corn that drives up the cost of feed for Arkansas's livestock producers and groceries at the store.
At every turn, the Obama Administration has sought to expand the federal government’s reach into the family farm. For instance, the President has pushed for unprecedented expansion of the Clean Water Act that would make it nearly impossible for farmers to make a living. The proposal to delete just one word—'navigable'—from the original law would make nearly every puddle of water subject to federal regulation. It is an unprecedented overreach that must not be forced upon our farming communities.
Perhaps the most egregious and destructive proposed government regulation is “Cap and Trade,” a radical policy that would drive up the cost of gas and energy devastating our farmers and rural communities. Arkansas's farmers already facing skyrocketing costs for energy, fertilizer, and other inputs, a “Cap and Trade” scheme would effectively mean the end of the family farm.
I believe there is still a lot to be done legislatively to help promote America's agricultural industry. I remain committed to building infrastructure in our rural communities, reducing the tax burden and energy costs on our farmers, continuing to open new markets for their products, and protecting them against outrageous government power-grabs.
|6/14/13||Week in Review: June 10-14|
|6/10/13||What to Watch for This Week|
|6/10/13||Boozman Applauds Passage of Farm Bill|
|6/7/13||Week in Review: June 3-7|
|6/3/13||Boozman Seeks to Enhance Farm Bill|
|5/24/13||Week in Review: May 20-24|
|5/17/13||Week in Review: May 13-17|
|5/14/13||Boozman: Farm Bill Framework 'a step in the right direction'|
|4/12/13||Week in Review: April 8 - 12|
|3/29/13||Week in Review: March 25-29|