AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Area Congressman Mac Thornberry heard the concerns of local producers today regarding the Farm Bill.
He said he wanted to get everyone together to discuss the bill to make sure they were all on the same page, in hopes of hearing top concerns as a vote approaches.
The Farm Bill aims to provide a safety net to ensure producers can be successful growing the food we need.
Something Congressman Thornberry said is crucial during our current conditions
"Agriculture is by far the number one factor in our economy and this Farm Bill I think will be helpful at stabilizing agriculture at a time of low prices and drought certainly for some of us," said Thornberry.
However, many producers have concerns about issues such as trade.
"We're very much concerned about the tariffs that are going on," said Brad Stout, a representative with the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.
"It is true that agriculture has already suffered because of these tit for tat sort of tariffs that have been imposed," said Thornberry. "It's also true that we have to be able to sell agricultural products overseas or our farmers and ranchers cannot stay in business. So I hope this is a temporary time of tension that we can go forward with trade agreements and be able to expand our markets."
Stout said the TCFA supports the Farm Bill because of disease prevention concerns, like foot mouth disease.
"We are very concerned about a possible [foot mouth disease] outbreak sometime down the road and if it does happen we want to be prepared for that," said Stout. "So in the Farm Bill, there's been money appropriated for disease prevention... We think it's a very big concern for our cattlemen in loss of revenue in such an event can happen."
Another issue is the struggle to find workers, which Thornberry hopes will be solved with their policy on food stamps.
"My hope is with requiring food stamp recipients to either work or be in job training, there will be more workers available," said Thornberry. "But in addition to that, I do support a limited guest worker program for agriculture so that if someone from another country wants to come work, we know who they are, we know where they are, we know they go home at the end of that time but we have the benefit of their labor."
Finally, a major push in the Farm Bill is to expand rural broadband.
"To make internet connectivity available to rural America would promote economic growth in those areas," said Bill Harrelson who is general counsel for the Golden Spread Electric Cooperative.
"I think this is a major priority in The White House, it's a major priority for a lot of us in congress because we know if rural America is left behind when it comes to internet access, it will be impossible to catch up." said Thornberry. "You should hear these guys talk about the importance of that internet access in their tractors today in helping to be more efficient in using herbicides, fertilizers- all sorts of ways that they use technology today. They need that broadband access in order to continue to be more productive."
Congressman Thornberry said the Farm Bill will be voted on in the House in the next week or two.