San Angelo, TX - The so-called farm bill is the hot topic in this week's Annual West Texas Legislative Summit. It's no secret that farming is a big part of West Texas. Today the house agriculture committee got a tour of a few agriculture related businesses, including a wool plant and a cotton farm.
"Having a chance to show members from Kansas and California, North Carolina, exactly what cotton production," Mike Conaway, U.S. Congressman and Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.
The tour is one of many things that will help the committee when crafting the next farm bill.
"Production in agriculture experienced a 50 percent drop in net farm income since the last farm was written in 2014. The worst slide since the depression. So when it's time to do the 2018 Farm Bill, which is right around the corner, it'll be a backdrop that we can point to the circumstances that are going on in production agriculture right now, as to why we need that safety net," says Conaway.
The 2014 farm bill is set to expire next year. It is providing about 489-billion-dollars in federal funding across the country to support programs like crop insurance and nutrition.
"So every American, when they go to a grocery store, go to a restaurant, they get a deal. They don't know that, and they don't know they are getting a deal. They are getting it because the seat equity, the hard work, the risk taking of the American producer. The ranchers, the farmers. And their reliance on the safety net that keeps them in business," says Conaway.
Another thing that will help create the new farm bill, the listening session this afternoon at Angelo State University. Business leaders and industry experts got a chance to express their wants and needs they hope go into the new bill.
"We will refinance 17 crop, to plant the 18 crop, before we get the payment from 16," says one citizen.
"There are several important things that are important to the cattle industry," says another.
Cotton farmers want a safety net again. Cotton was the crop excluded from the farm bill's safety net in 2014, when cotton prices were high..
"We think cotton needs to go back into title 1 of the farm program," says a farmer.
U.S. Congressman Jodey Arrington hopes this week helps provide insight.
"My colleagues on the agriculture committee are going to hear a lot about how we need to save the cotton industry," says U.S. Congressman Jodey Arrington, (R) Texas District 19.
Today was just the listening session. Tomorrow is the legislative summit, also hosted at ASU.
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