U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, met with over 100 farmers in Troy July 5 to discuss final passage of the farm bill before October.
The bill, which is voted on every five years, will reauthorize food, conservation and agricultural programs that benefit farmers and consumers.
“What you can do between now and the end of September is don’t let up,” said Conaway, encouraging farmers to continue to contact members of Congress and ask them to work toward compromise and passage of the bill.
The Senate passed its version of the farm bill June 28, also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (S. 3042). The House passed its version, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), June 21.
“I’m not so arrogant that I think the House version is the one the president is going to sign, but my hope is it will be a bipartisan bill,” he said.
Conaway, a Texas Republican, said he expected a conference committee to be appointed by House and Senate leadership in mid July. That committee will iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Once a final measure is approved by both chambers, it will be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.
The bill provides farmers a framework to use for the next five years, Conaway said.
“It’s important we get this farm bill done on time, so right, wrong or indifferent — you’ll know what the next five years are going to look like,” he said.
Roby, who serves on the House Committee on Appropriations, praised Conaway for his leadership on the committee and in Congress.
“We have a very good working relationship to make sure Alabama agriculture is taken care of,” Roby said of Conaway.
Both congressmen fielded questions from farmers and discussed trade tariffs and low commodity prices.
The chairman said he recognizes farmers’ concerns but assured them the president supports farmers. He said in recent discussions, the president encouraged Agriculture Committee members to improve crop insurance programs.
Conaway said Roby will be pivotal in funding programs authorized in the final version of the farm bill. He thanked her for helping fund programs farmers need.
“I can’t say enough about Martha (Roby) and the work she does,” Conaway said. “She’s a terrific ally on the Appropriations Committee. She helps make a lot of the decisions on funding for the things we are going to try to authorize in the farm bill. You have a terrific representative in her, and we really need her back in Congress.”
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell also had high praise for Roby.
“She has always been a voice in Washington for our farmers,” Parnell said. “We depend on her conservative leadership and integrity. She has truly been a friend to farmers and all Alabamians.”
After the meeting in Troy, Roby and Conaway visited Carl Sanders’ row crop farm in Coffee County, where they further discussed the farm bill and issues affecting Wiregrass producers. n