By Casey Wooten
The Senate Agriculture Committee will kick off the first of a number of farm bill field hearings in Manhattan, Kan., on Feb. 23.
Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) will take questions from farmers and other agriculture industry stakeholders as lawmakers get ready to draft another five-year farm bill re-authorization. The hearing will be streamed live on the committee’s website.
“Our producers have had time to employ the programs in the current farm bill, and they have a lot to say,” Roberts said in a statement Jan. 25. “We need clear direction on what is working and what is not working in farm country, and we will be listening to see what needs to be adjusted.”
Lawmakers are expected to hold several hearings on the farm bill throughout this year. The deadline for Congress to pass the measure is in late 2018.
The U.S. agriculture economy is starkly different than it was when Congress wrote the 2014 farm bill. Record crop surpluses and flat demand have driven commodity prices down for the past three years, and that reality is likely to inform how lawmakers write the next farm bill. Farm aid programs such as Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage will likely get a thorough examination to see how they have performed in the recent downturn in crop prices.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) has said he will hold similar meetings in farm states as well, though they will not be official field hearings.
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