WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Senators on Wednesday started talking about what may be included in the massive farm bill, a package renewed every five years that funds farming, assistance programs and trade programs.
“The success of our agricultural economy requires continued investments in markets and opportunities for farmers,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who chairs the agriculture committee, said.
In the first in a series of discussions of what should be in the bill, Stabenow argued that after the pandemic pushed the nation’s food supply chain to the brink, the federal government must to do more to help producers sell what they make domestically.
“We all have a stake in continuing to make sure that happens,” she said.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said expanding meat and poultry processing infrastructure should be a priority.
“It’s critical if we’re going to lower prices and address corporate consolidation,” he said.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had his eye on protections for farmers trading abroad.
“The concern I hear most from Iowans is access to Mexico’s corn market,” he said.
Some say the farm bill should also include more food assistance for countries in need.
“Today, we’re in the midst of unprecedented global hunger,” the assistant to the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Sarah Charles, said. “Acute hunger levels are 70% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.”
The farm bill must be finalized before the current one expires in September.