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McMorris Rodgers hosts listening session concerning new Farm Bill legislation

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Tuesday afternoon, the congresswoman made her way down to Colfax to host a Farm Bill Listening session. She says this Farm Bill is the most important piece of agricultural legislation impacting our region.

Right now Congress is preparing to move forward with the Farm Bill within next year. McMorris Rodgers says it is important to hear directly from Eastern Washington about the issues facing them, their farms, and their families.

The Farm Bill isn’t anything new to farmers or those in Congress, but with new changes coming, it is the most important piece of agricultural legislation impacting our region.

Every five years the Farm Bill sets policies that govern a broad spectrum of programs for the country, from crop support to conservation and from food assistance to forestry. The Farm Bill accounts for only two-percent of federal funding, yet it affects every single person across the nation. The largest portion of funds are spent on nutrition programs which make up nearly 80-percent of Farm Bill spending. The rest of the bill supports America’s farmers, ranchers, and consumers through initiatives which includes commodity programs, agricultural research, trade, and rural development. The bill is divided into 15 sections, all pertaining to how we farm and feed Americans.

In 2014, or the last time the bill was reauthorized, 100 programs administered by the USDA, including direct payment to farmers, was repealed or consolidated. As a result, it was vital that the state of Washington created a safety net for Eastern Washington farmers. This safety net is created through strengthening crop insurance.

Let me break it down, through federal crop insurance, farmers invest their own risk management by purchasing insurance policies to shield themselves from natural disasters and drought. Currently, crop insurance is the main target for cuts in the new draft of the Farm Bill.

Agricultural research, another large proponent, by increasing critical research priorities and emphasizing the use of public-private partnerships to augment that research. The bill is set to expire September of 2018 and now congressional leaders want to hear from farmers across the nation and review research on farming methods and conservation efforts.

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