Johnson: House Farm Bill Gives Farmers What They Asked For

The House Ag Committee has passed their version of the next five-year farm bill, but congressional leaders are less than hopeful the bill will get across the finish line before a new fall deadline. South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson, one of the six main authors of the House version, says the bill includes several things he heard while holding listening sessions back home in South Dakota.

We had people say, listen, we’re in a drastically different input environment than we were six or seven years ago. Inflation on fertilizer, energy products, this has really changed our cost of production. And so we did. We increased pretty dramatically the reference prices in Title One, we did increase some of the premium support and crop insurance. We also did, and this will be a big thing for corn country. There’s a voluntary base acre update in there. There have been that’s old data in the system that is really impacting those risk management tools for producers. Those are all big changes.

Johnson says the Rural Development title includes rural broadband.

“I was the lead subcommittee chairman on the Rural Development title, which we make a big change here. We should not be investing dollars in networks that only meet our needs today. We want to make sure we’re investing in networks that meet our needs 10 years from now, and so we really dramatically up the speeds. If we’re going to give somebody a loan or grant to build a very rural broadband network, we want to make sure those speeds are 250 megabits per second or 500 megabits per second download speed. Upping those speeds is a big get.”

Johnson says there’s growing awareness of the need for working lands conservation.

“Farmers and ranchers can do some tremendous conservation practices on working lands that still are great for habitat, great for water quality, great for soil health. And so this bill has a real emphasis on Working Lands Conservation.”

Another priority area for Johnson is having strong markets for the country’s ag products.

“We know that we grow and raise the world’s best beef, beans, corn, dairy, pork, and if we can just get access to other markets, we do incredibly well. People want to buy our stuff. And in fact, for South Dakota, we export $5 billion of agricultural goods every year. That’s $5,500 for each South Dakotan each year. It’s a massive amount of money. And so we make a major investment. In fact, we double the funds in the farm bill that are used to secure market access, to make it easier for American ag goods to get into those foreign countries. That’s going to pay massive dividends for South Dakota and elsewhere.”

So far, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hasn’t given any indication of when they may be getting moving on their version of the Farm Bill. I’m Mike Davis.

Image: North Carolina Representative David Rouzer (left) and South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson speaking to attendees at the recent Ag on the Mall event in Washington, D.C.