July 20, 2017
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, who chairs the Senate Ag Committee, visited with 100 Alabama farmers July 15 to discuss the upcoming farm bill. Roberts also toured the Gaines family’s Autaugaville cotton and peanut farm. From left are U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, R-Alabama; Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell; Harold Gaines; Dan Gaines; and Roberts.
Alabama farmers took farm bill concerns to the top when they met with U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and Sen. Luther Strange, R-Alabama, July 15.
Roberts chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, of which Strange is a member.
The senators visited Harold Gaines’ Autaugaville farm before meeting about 100 farmers at the Alabama Farmers Federation Montgomery home office.
“We’ve been holding hearings all over the country and asking farmers what’s working for the farm bill and what isn’t,” Roberts said. “We hope we can do a farm bill sooner rather than later so farmers can get some predictability and plan.”
One farm bill program not working for Gaines and other Alabama farmers is the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) for Upland Cotton. Developed in the 2014 farm bill to comply with the World Trade Organization, many farmers say the program has its shortcomings.
“We participated in the STAX program for two years, and it was probably the two hardest financial years cotton has been through,” Gaines said. “It provided virtually no safety net for us whatsoever, so this year we didn’t even participate.”
Roberts said priorities for the 2018 farm bill include preserving crop insurance funding and enhancing international trade, a challenge with current spending levels.
Federation leaders also met with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt July 6.
Pruitt discussed his actions to begin the process of rescinding the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule.