Farm Bill Will Bring Certainty, Predictability to America’s Farmers
‘This bill is too important to let it languish. This is our chance to support the farm families, producers, and rural communities on whom our nation depends. And make no mistake about it -- they need that support. American farmers are staring down falling commodity prices and unstable markets and living under the constant threat of droughts, or floods, or other natural disasters.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding 2018 Farm Bill:
“Today, the Senate will continue our work on the Farm Bill. The bipartisan collaboration of Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow has given all senators the opportunity to review and consider this important legislation
“Now we start the amendment process. Ideas from many of our colleagues have already been included in the Roberts substitute amendment, but the bill managers are open to considering additional amendments. We’ll start with the Thune amendment regarding the Conservation Reserve Program and go from there. But it remains our intention to finish consideration of the bill this week. This bill is too important to let it languish.
“This is our chance to support the farm families, producers, and rural communities on whom our nation depends. And make no mistake about it -- they need that support. American farmers are staring down falling commodity prices and unstable markets and living under the constant threat of droughts, or floods, or other natural disasters.
“They’re looking for certainty and predictability. This Farm Bill delivers. Quote: ‘The fact is, without the solid foundation of the farm bill and the certainty it provides, many farmers and ranchers would not be able to get operating loans to farm another year.’ Those are the words of the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which passionately supports this bill.
“So do the Agricultural Equipment Manufacturers. So do the National Association of Counties. So do many other groups dedicated to agriculture, business, hunger prevention, and the health of rural America. That’s because this legislation provides the immediate assistance and stability that farmers count on to keep feeding and supporting this country right now, and because it will empower our farmers and ranchers to invest for the future. Chairman Roberts described this perfectly yesterday. Quote: ‘It takes the government providing tools, and then getting out of the producer’s way.’
“On the latter point, I am most excited about a provision in this bill that will clear the way for the legal farming of industrial hemp by removing current roadblocks that prevent farmers -- in Kentucky and around the country -- from capitalizing on this promising crop. Since the 1970s, except in a few limited cases, American farmers have not been able to grow industrial hemp in their fields. That doesn’t mean consumers aren’t buying hemp. Far from it.
“Hemp is in everything from health products to home insulation. The global market for hemp is estimated to consist of more than 25,000 products. According to one estimate, back in 2016, U.S. retail sales of hemp products totaled approximately $688 million. Last year alone, Kentucky hemp recorded more than $16 million in product sales through the state’s pilot program.
“So American consumers are buying hemp. But thanks to heavy-handed regulations, the only option at scale is importing hemp from foreign producers. Enough is enough. Industrial hemp is a completely different plant than its illicit cousin. It’s time we get Washington got out of the way and let American farmers meet the growing demand of American consumers. In the last Farm Bill, I championed a hemp pilot program that opened the door to some exploration.
“I recently heard from a fifth-generation Kentucky farmer from Garrard County who participates in the program. He wrote, quote, ‘we had no idea what it would turn into.’ He says growing hemp has been, quote, ‘career-defining for me, beyond anything I’d ever imagine.’ At a time when the farm economy is struggling, it’s encouraging to hear such enthusiasm for a new potential cash crop.
“Another farmer from Marion County wrote and asked Congress to, quote, ‘continue your efforts until we can grow, research, and market this crop freely without undue restrictions. We have merely scratched the surface of the countless benefits that come from this plant.’ Hemp will be a bright spot for the future. It’s full of economic potential for Kentucky and the nation.
“So, we should pass this Farm Bill without delay. Let’s address farmers’ immediate needs. Let’s give them new tools to help secure their future. And let’s get Washington out of the way in the cases where outdated policies are holding them back. The bill before us is a prime example of the good that can come when we work together. I look forward to the Senate passing it for Kentucky’s farm families. Let’s continue our work to get it done.”
Related Issues: Farm Bill