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Supporting Rural America

December 17, 2018
Weekly Columns

As Congress continues to finish its work this year, I am encouraged that lawmakers in both chambers recently finalized and approved legislation that is vital to the success of our nation’s farmers and ranchers. Introduced under various titles over the years but known generally as the Farm Bill, this comprehensive piece of legislation is revisited every five years to ensure the best results are still being delivered to producers and consumers.

While Oklahoma leads across several industries, agriculture is truly at the heart of our state’s commerce. Considering that there are more than 13,000 farms and ranches in the Fourth District of Oklahoma alone, there is no question that the Farm Bill matters to the economy and vitality of rural America.

During the summer, I was pleased that the House and Senate successfully passed versions of the 2018 Farm Bill and then initiated negotiations to reconcile the differences in a joint conference committee. Though I did not serve on the panel, I am proud that the resulting agreement continued to build on the 2014 Farm Bill that was guided by Oklahoma’s own Frank Lucas, who again played a key role in crafting the most recent legislation. 

To maintain healthy crops and produce, farmers and ranchers greatly rely on the crop insurance, conservation and various other programs contained in the Farm Bill. This is widely realized across our state.

Oklahoma’s farmers are no strangers to unpredictable obstacles – like droughts and natural disasters – that can jeopardize a harvest or destroy crops entirely. Crop insurance is vital to protecting years of hard work in times of abundance and in unexpected times of scarcity. Along with preserving and strengthening crop insurance coverage, I am pleased that the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill prioritizes research and development to determine risk management solutions and financial protection options – especially in the wake of natural disasters.

Along with the important support provided by crop insurance, producers know that conservation is critical to the longevity and fruitfulness of our natural resources. When farmers can work well-preserved and quality lands, crops are more likely to yield a better harvest. The final version of the Farm Bill continues to maintain the Conservation Reserve Program, which has benefited Oklahoma’s farmers for decades. The program supports farmers with the most vulnerable lands and provides for revitalization of those lands through appropriate farming standards. This program also promotes soil conservation and protects farmers from going out of business.

Without question, there are no better stewards of the land than those whose livelihood depends on that land. While the reauthorization of securities for producers promotes a thriving agricultural sector, American families and consumers are also better off when certainty is provided to our food growers and producers. I am pleased that the 2018 Farm Bill delivers on just that.