While in Washington, D.C., the National Association of Farm Broadcasters group had the chance to visit with Congressman John Boozman. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network’s Farm Director KC Sheperd features comments from the Arkansas Republican talking about issues regarding the 2023 Farm Bill.
“We have really worked hard to listen to everyone that represents virtually every aspect of the farm economy as we try and get a farm bill passed,” Boozman said. “I think there is a real willingness in the House and the Senate to get things done. Farm Bills are not partisan. They are about different regions of the country.”
As each region of the country has different needs, Boozman said the farm bill is not a “one size fits all” approach.
“I do think there is a real willingness for both Republicans and Democrats to get this thing done,” Boozman said. “My goal is to come up with a bill that everybody can live with.”
The price tag on the 2023 Farm Bill, Boozman said, is 1.3 trillion dollars. Almost all of that, Boozman said, is toward nutrition.
“That is not to say that we don’t need to take care of those individuals,” Boozman said. “In fact, I would argue that there is a tremendous need right now. If you are on a fixed income, if you are living on 1200 or 1400 dollars of social security, you are in big trouble. We are not cheating in measuring inflation. We just don’t do a very good job of it.”
Along with helping those people in need, Boozman said, comes supporting work programs that can help those individuals make a living wage.
“To say that we don’t have money for the safety nets for farmers- to me, that is a non-starter,” Boozman said. “If we don’t take care of risk management and we don’t make sure that ARC, PLC, the reference prices, crop insurance, all of those things- the data from that goes back to 2012. The world now is a very different place than it was then. If we don’t have the safety nets in, then as far as I am concerned, there is no reason to have the farm bill, and it won’t be one that I can support.”
Labor is another serious issue at the moment, Boozman said, and not only in the agricultural community.
“This is something we need to work on as a country,” Boozman said. “You are not going to see significant immigration reform until you secure the border.”
With record numbers of immigrants at U.S. borders, Boozman said, there will be even more once the Remain in “remain in Mexico” program.
“I don’t know what is going to happen, but until you get that sorted out, we are not going to see significant reform,” Boozman said. “So, we need to use the programs that we have got, and make sure they are working as efficiently as possible.”