The Farm Bill reauthorization remains a major topic of conversation back home in Iowa and on Capitol Hill. I have been clear with my colleagues – on both sides of the aisle – that we need to get the Farm Bill written, passed, and signed into law as quickly as possible. From foreign animal disease prevention to robust crop insurance protections, American farmers, producers, and every industry that intersects with agriculture need Congress to focus on the task at hand and deliver a Farm Bill worthy of our hardworking farm families. Representing the second-largest agriculture-producing district in the U.S. House of Representatives, that goal continues to be my main mission.
While I have many priorities for this year’s Farm Bill, I am working to get legislation that I have sponsored included in this must-pass package.
First, we must ensure that crop insurance remains fully funded. When severe weather strikes or the agriculture economy takes a turn for the worse, our farmers need to be able to depend on affordable, reliable access to crop insurance policies. This is particularly true for our young producers who are facing many challenges, including record-high inflation, volatile commodity markets, and rising farmland prices. That’s why I’m working diligently to incorporate my Crop Insurance for Future Farmers Act, which has been endorsed by over 30 agriculture organizations and cosponsored by 20 of my colleagues. This legislation extends vital crop and livestock insurance protections to new, beginning, and veteran farmers to lower their insurance premiums during their first ten years in operation. My bill specifically increases enhanced federal crop and livestock insurance protections from five to ten years. By helping the next generation of American farmers succeed, we can safeguard our food security and keep China far away from American farmland.
Second, opening new export markets for our producers remains a top priority for me. Meeting with Iowa farmers and producers on my biannual 36 County Tour, I repeatedly hear that strong trade agreements are vital to our farm economy and rural main streets. However, without robust market development and critical infrastructure, our producers are significantly limited in their ability to export their high-quality products around the world. Serving on the House Ways and Means Committee – which oversees trade policy – I introduced the Fortifying Refrigeration Infrastructure and Developing Global Exports (FRIDGE) Act that will develop much-needed infrastructure to ship our beef, chicken, turkey, pork, grains, specialty crops, and other perishable goods worldwide. While the Biden Administration refuses to negotiate new trade agreements and help our farmers access foreign markets, I will continue to do everything in my power to support our producers and end our reliance on only a handful of export markets. I’m happy to report that I’ve had positive discussions about the inclusion of this important legislation in the Farm Bill.
Third, in Iowa, we know well the catastrophic ramifications of foreign animal disease outbreaks, particularly Hi-Path Avian Influenza (HPAI). Last year’s HPAI outbreak forced our producers to euthanize over 56 million birds – approximately 14 million of which were in Iowa – and caused $3 billion in financial losses. Conservative estimates also predict that African Swine Fever would generate nearly $80 billion in economic losses for the pork and beef industry, eliminate 60,000 jobs, and reduce pork and beef prices between 50 and 60 percent. For this reason and many more, I introduced the Safe American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to formally authorize the U.S. Department of Agriculture to negotiate regionalization agreements with our global trade partners before an animal disease lands on American soil. This legislation would allow our producers to continue to safely export their goods in the event of a disease outbreak that does not impact Iowa.
Finally, I’m working to help our farmers purchase cutting-edge precision agriculture technologies at affordable prices. My Precision Agriculture Loan Program Act — which would establish the first-ever federal precision agriculture loan program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and provide our producers with low-interest loans to purchase precision agriculture technology. Under my bill, farmers can access loans up to $500,000 between three and twelve years in length at interest rates of less than 2%. This investment in our producers will reduce the time-intensive nature of agriculture, increase yields, and reduce costs. I’m equally encouraged that this legislation has a real chance of reaching the final version of the Farm Bill.
We have one shot to get this Farm Bill right for American agriculture, and I refuse to vote for a Farm Bill that hurts our farmers or diminishes our national security. Serving on the House Agriculture Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, I promise that I will use my voice to advocate for our farmers, producers, and rural communities as we consider this vital legislation to rural America. Iowa’s priorities are my priorities, and they will be heard. We will get a Farm Bill across the finish line, lower costs for our farmers, and deliver for agriculture.
We are government together, and your thoughts and opinions matter to me. Please contact my office at Feenstra.House.Gov or by phone at 202-225-4426 if I can ever be of assistance. I am proud to represent our families, farmers, main street businesses, and rural communities in Congress.