Jun 28 2018

VIDEO: Blunt Urges Support for Farm Bill

Says Growth in Ag Industry Represents “A Huge Opportunity for Our Country”

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to support the 2018 Farm Bill. Blunt noted that the bill would benefit Missouri farmers and ranchers by ensuring access to risk management tools, expanding rural broadband, and strengthening infrastructure. With world food demand expected to double in the next 30 to 40 years, Blunt reiterated the need to make sure the U.S. ag industry has the tools and certainty it needs to meet the opportunities ahead.

Following are Excerpts From Blunt’s Remarks:

“In my state, in Missouri, we have nearly 100,000 farms. The vast majority of those farms are family owned. They cover …  two-thirds of the total land of our state. Industry supports 400,000 jobs in a state of six million people, so it's a substantial impact on what we do. We're located, you and I both, Mr. President, the Mississippi River Valley is the biggest piece of contiguous agricultural ground in the world and we're in the middle of that. In terms of production, Missouri ranks second in the number of beef cows, fourth in rice, fifth in turkey, sixth in soybeans, seventh in hogs, ninth in corn, and tenth in cotton. So there are all kinds of places in the farm bill that impact where we are and all of those crops and others that we might not rank quite so high in but still were an important part of our economy. …

“World food demand is expected to double in the next 30 years or so… We have about 30 years to figure out how to raise twice as much food as we raise today, and we are likely to need to do that on no more land than we're doing it on now and with fewer inputs. So we need to do that in a way that probably uses not just less water per amount of food grown, but just less water totally. And not just less fertilizer per crop, but less fertilizer totally and so we're going to have to have a lot of science-based work going on to figure out how we meet this incredible opportunity and challenge of doubling all the food that we grow. I saw some FFA students out under a big shade tree looking back at the Capitol two different days last week, and both times I said I really can't think of any group I can talk to where I could say with such certainty that no matter what you do, understanding agriculture in the next 30 years is a part of our economy that's going to be twice as big the day you retire from whatever you decide to do than it was the day you started. …

“This Farm Bill gives us a chance to really advance the kinds of policies that allow us to meet that challenge. The bill is a bipartisan bill. Chairman Roberts has worked hard to produce this bill. Senator Stabenow, the top Democrat on the committee, has worked hard to produce this bill. Like all pieces of bipartisan legislation, it's not the bill that either of them would have written on their own, but it is a bill that can and should pass. It makes difficult decisions on how to balance priorities and how to maintain budget discipline at the same time. It's logically connected, of course, with helping those who grow our food, the people who determine whether or not we have an affordable and dependable supply of food and fuel and fiber. All of that is at stake in this legislation.

“The Farm Bill we're considering provides certainty for farmers. Like the Farm Bill we did five years ago, it takes a different course. It stays where we were. This is more evolutionary than a big revolutionary change. Five years ago, we went much more toward risk management where basically the federal government helps put an insurance kind of component together where you can insure against the many things that happen in the life of a farm family and the life of growing food. Don't control the weather. Don't control the prices. Don't control much of anything. You have just got to hope that everything works out and allows you to continue to do something that in the case of almost all farm families in America they love to do, and that's why they do it. …

“The bill makes forward-looking investments to help new farmers and beginning farmers. The average age of farmers in America today is almost 60. … If half the farmers in the country today are over 60, we need to be looking for things that allow beginning farmers to farm. To meet the needs as well as the opportunity of a growing world where, with fewer resources and the same amount of land as I said before, we're going to have this great opportunity. And by the way, nobody in the world is better at this than we are, and nobody in the world is better positioned than we are to get ag products all over the world. This is a huge opportunity for our country. Again, in my state, the one I know more about than I know about any other state, we're the home of really world-class animal and plant scientists. There are more plant scientists within 100 miles of St. Louis, Missouri, than there are anywhere else in the world in that same amount of space. …

“So the bill also makes investments in rural America to expand high-speed broadband and improve rural infrastructure, something that the president in every discussion I have heard on infrastructure. Talked about 25 percent of this needs to go to rural infrastructure, but part of that infrastructure is wireless technology, wireless infrastructure. If you're going to have precision farming … you and your equipment need to know exactly where you are, and I mean precisely where you are. You can't do that if you are not connected to broadband in some way. The GPS systems, the data centers, the automation systems just don't work without that. If you don't have high-speed internet, you don't have high-speed commodity trading capacity. So while somebody else maybe ten miles down the road from you has instantaneous ability to take advantage of a market to buy or sell, yours may be just slow enough that you miss the moment. And so the ability to live in rural America, the ability to thrive in rural America, the ability to farm like you're going to need to farm for the world we're about to get into is really important.”

CLICK HERE To Watch Senator Blunt’s Remarks