Farm Bill Impact Series No. 13

Floor Speech

Date: July 21, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. MANN. Madam Speaker, I rise today to deliver the 13th installment of my Farm Bill Impact Series during a time when the effects of a poor wheat harvest in Kansas are only compounded by crushing inflation.

This is insult added to injury for Kansas wheat farmers. Producers are laboring under the burden of skyrocketing input costs while they work hard to keep our country fed, fueled, and clothed, and they deserve workable solutions to this inflation crisis before the situation gets any worse. Farming is already a risky, volatile business without the added burden of inflation, and USDA estimates that input costs will continue to rise to astronomical rates throughout 2022.

For an example of the risk and volatility--the wheat harvest just ended in Kansas, and the results were a fraction of the yield that farmers in the Wheat State hope for and bank on during normal seasons. The Farm Bill (which Congress will reauthorize in 2023) exists, in part, specifically for situations like this past wheat season--to provide emergency assistance to the people who feed, fuel, and clothe the world even when mother nature doesn't cooperate.

The weather in Kansas can be extreme and unpredictable, which means that growing wheat in the wheat state can be a very difficult prospect sometimes. I had an intern in my office this summer named Parker Vulgamore who is a rising senior at Kansas State University where he serves as the student body president. He is also a member of the sixth generation of his family farm in Scott City, which lies in my district. Vulgamore Family Farms is a wheat, corn, and sorghum operation, with wheat being a staple. This year, due to an exceptional drought and extreme conditions throughout the growing season, much of the wheat never grew past three inches tall. So, what is typically a highly anticipated three-to-four-week wheat harvest only lasted a day and a half. Many wheat farmers in Kansas barely even ran their combines this year--they harvested what they could, cut their losses, and moved on.

This is where Farm Bill emergency assistance programs like crop insurance come in. Crop insurance serves producers and consumers alike because it helps prevent producers from going out of business and grocery store aisles from sitting empty. Farm Bill programs like crop insurance have secured our national food supply and helped generation after generation of producers avoid bankruptcy when times get tough. We're in one of those times right now. Inflation is skyrocketing in America, President Biden is trying to impose his Farm Killer Tax, and producers are going out of business. The chance to reauthorize the Farm Bill for 2023 has come at a critical moment in time.

The farm crisis isn't just about money. It's about morale and spirit. It's about joy. Missing wheat harvest time in Kansas doesn't just mean missing out on the yield of a cash crop--it means missing out on the special Kansas tradition of celebrating the culmination of all your family's hard work. It means missing out on grandma's casserole in the harvest field and missing out on seeing your mom in the semi, your dad in the combine, and your little brother getting to drive the grain cart for the first time. A bad wheat harvest in Kansas doesn't just create financial insecurity, it also leaves a void where a renewal of family camaraderie should be. American agricultural producers are hurting not only from the skyrocketing input costs that come with inflation, but also from the lowered morale that comes with drought, thin margins, and a broken supply chain. In 2023, Congress must reauthorize the Farm Bill with American farm families at the front of our minds, because they are in a crisis.

I'll be back on the floor soon to deliver another installment of my Farm Bill Impact Series and highlight more programs and titles within the Bill that I believe Congress must understand and support to ensure that agriculture thrives in America. The people who feed, fuel, and clothe us all deserve our unwavering support. They also deserve a robust safety net in the Farm Bill and workable solutions to the inflation crisis before it's too late.

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