Since 1933, Congress has passed a bipartisan Farm Bill that supports America’s agriculture producers every five years. With the next farm bill due before the end of September, I invited my colleague, Congressman Collin Peterson to join me for two listening sessions in Casa Grande and Tucson earlier this month. Rep. Peterson is the ranking member and former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and he is a fierce advocate for America’s agriculture producers.
Our great state is home to some of the finest produce, cotton and dairy in the country and the world, and it is, indeed, a family affair. It is important to me that leaders in Washington hear the voices of the Arizonans who will be impacted most by the policies and funding we pass in this important legislation. Rep. Peterson and I have both taken note of many of the issues raised during both open forums and submitted them to our fellow committee members for the record.
While there are many challenges facing America’s agriculture producers, the Arizonans we met with were clear about their needs. The men and women who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs need assistance, and I will work to make sure this next farm bill addresses their concerns.
I am proud of the significant progress we have made so far this year to return cotton to a Title I commodity and stabilize the industry. This change will have a major positive impact for Arizona cotton growers. Congress must now turn its attention to other critical issues that can be tackled in the next farm bill. We must prioritize water conservation and management solutions for rural and tribal communities, forest restoration and wildfire protections, and nutrition assistance programs that improve the lives of millions of Americans.
Additionally, the farm bill should spur economic development and help create jobs in rural Arizona. We can achieve this by investing in rural broadband deployment that brings the global economy to rural communities and encourages businesses to move to communities in rural America. Building essential infrastructure like clean water and electric systems will make it easier for small cities and towns to attract business opportunities. I support expanding Value-Added Producer Grants and other funding opportunities that enable businesses to grow and create good-paying American jobs.
Congress has a responsibility to empower our nation’s agriculture industry to continue producing affordable and bountiful yields while guaranteeing access to markets through fair trade deals. I am committed to being a voice for Arizonans, and I will continue working with our local and state leaders to implement policies that lift up our farmers and ranchers and bring security to families throughout the country.
I am grateful for the frank discussions that were had during these open forums. I look forward to continuing these conversations with local farmers and ranchers as we get closer to a finished farm bill later this year. As we continue working on this important legislation, I encourage you to reach out to my office to share your thoughts and concerns on the upcoming farm bill or any other legislation that impacts you or your family.
Congressman Tom O’Halleran represents Congressional District 1, which includes Oro Valley and Marana.