Proud to be a Farmer: Looking ahead to the 2023 Farm Bill
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - 2023 will be here before we know it, and Alabama farmers are already brainstorming what they want Congress to add to the current Farm Bill.
For Wiregrass farmers, they are in need of financial help.
“Right now, peanut prices are strong. Unfortunately, costs are stronger,” said Carl Sanders, President of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association.
In 2018, former President Donald Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act, also known as the Farm Bill, into law. It acted as a safety net that farmers could always count on if they did not have a good year.
At that time, the economy was in a much better place than it is today. But between soaring inflation and pesky supply chain issues, farmers are having a hard time making profits when they’re paying more to conduct business.
“Everything we buy is up at least 50 percent,” explained Sanders. “A lot of it is up 200 percent, if you can get it.”
As a result, farmers have made adjustments to save where they can.
“You use different pesticides, make repairs on your own when you can’t get parts in a timely fashion, and substitute parts,” said Sanders. “It’s been very frustrating.”
Every five years, farmers meet in Washington to lobby for the adjustments they would like to see made to the Farm Bill.
Because of current economic conditions, Alabama farmers would like to see a price escalator added to next year’s bill.
“Prices have increased quite a bit since 2018,” said Jacob Davis, Executive Director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. “But the safety net dollar amount threshold hasn’t increased any.”
The goal is to protect farmers from future economic downturns. The big question is will that happen, now that the midterms are over and 2023 will see a divided Congress.
“The Farm Bill, traditionally, has been the most bipartisan legislation that passes in D.C.,” said Davis. “It takes both sides of the isle working together to get a product out that provides that safety net for our farmers to be able to do what they do.”
The heavily bipartisan history is a positive sign that farmers will see the changes they desperately need in 2023.
“I really feel good about the next Farm Bill, whomever is in control,” said Sanders. “We do have a lot of friends in Congress, and we have a good argument. And we will present it and I feel like it’ll be successful.”
Once the next Farm Bill is debated and passed, it will be in effect until 2028.
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