What’s Ahead for Agriculture

Jan 27, 2017 Issues: Agriculture, Trade, Ways & Means

In the face of many challenges, including an endless churn of regulations from Washington, the efficiency and dedication of our producers has made the Third District the top-producing agriculture district in the country. Nebraska farmers and ranchers deserve not only our gratitude for their tireless work but also greater certainty and opportunity for future success.  

This was my motivation for founding the Modern Agriculture Caucus, of which I continue to serve as co-chairman. The caucus promotes innovation and science-based policies in agriculture while educating Members of Congress from urban areas about the needs of rural producers. These conversations are increasingly necessary as we prepare to work on a new Farm Bill.

My new role as chairman of the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee provides opportunities to work with House Agriculture Committee members on structuring parts of the Farm Bill. Because your input in this process is invaluable, I will be hosting a Farm Bill Listening Tour to hear directly from Third District producers. Dates and locations will be announced as soon as possible.

As we work through these issues, I am pleased to have Sallie Atkins on my team as Agriculture Director. Sallie has firsthand knowledge of producers’ needs and concerns from her more than 30 years of experience in Nebraska agriculture. In addition to farming and ranching with her husband in Thomas County, she spends significant time each week traveling the Third District to meet with producers and agriculture groups.  

President Trump also recognizes the importance of hearing directly from Nebraska producers, demonstrated by his selection of numerous Nebraskans to serve on his Agricultural and Rural Advisory Committee. Much of the reaction to President Trump’s nomination of Governor Sonny Perdue for Agriculture Secretary has been positive, and I look forward to working with him to help U.S. farmers and ranchers feed the world.

The official White House website has been updated with President Trump’s policy plans, including his commitment to eliminate the Waters of the U.S. rule. This is welcome reassurance to farmers and ranchers across the country who do not want Washington bureaucrats controlling the puddles and irrigation ditches on their properties.  

The Death Tax is also on President Trump’s list of regulations to abolish. Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota introduced H.R. 631, of which I am a cosponsor, this week to permanently repeal this onerous tax which penalizes farmers, ranchers, and small business owners who have worked all their lives to build their family businesses. The repeal bill falls under the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee, and I will continue to advocate for its swift passage.

While we work to get government out of producers’ way, we must also open more markets to their exports. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, found wide support within the agriculture sector, but President Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the U.S. from this agreement with 11 countries on the Pacific Rim during his first week in office. Though the TPP was not perfect, I supported establishing this framework for U.S. exporters to pursue greater economic opportunity in the Asia-Pacific region.  

Our country is moving in a new direction on trade, but agriculture can still benefit. In his executive order, President Trump announced his intention to pursue bilateral trade agreements. I was pleased to hear this, as I strongly believe our country must be a leader in writing the rules of the global economy rather than allowing other world powers to take our place. Moving forward, I will continue to advocate for bilateral agreements with the TPP countries to reduce barriers to our agriculture products in these growing markets.

Many opportunities lie ahead to strengthen U.S. agriculture. I look forward to working with Nebraska producers and the Trump administration to ensure we get these policies right.