AUBURN — U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) joined Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate in hosting Farm Bill discussions this week, with stops in Bay Minette, Headland, Boaz, and Millbrook.
“When I came to Washington, I promised Alabama’s farmers that I would be their voice,” said Senator Tuberville. “Agriculture is a vital part of our state’s economy, and it only makes sense that we have a seat at the table for important negotiations like the Farm Bill. Earning a spot on the Senate AG Committee was important to me because Alabama hasn’t had a strong presence on this committee since the late 1990s. Our agriculture and rural communities deserve better than that, and it’s an honor to fight for their priorities and interests. Alabama’s farmers, foresters, and producers shoulder the burden of feeding, fueling, and clothing our nation. Our country not only relies on the current generation of farmers, but we’re depending on the next generation to carry the torch and keep not only the United States, but the world, food secure. That’s why we need to cut burdensome red tape that inhibits production so that family farms may remain intact for generations to come. Easing this burden has driven my work thus far, and I will continue to keep our farmers front of mind as we draft the 2023 Farm Bill.”
As Alabama’s voice on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee (AG), Senator Tuberville is ensuring Alabamians’ priorities are included in the 2023 Farm Bill.
In July 2023, Senator Tuberville introduced two pieces of legislation—the Farm Board Act and the Mid-South Oilseed Double Cropping Study Act of 2023—to improve opportunities and representation for Alabama’s agriculture community.
The Farm Board Act, which Senator Tuberville introduced with Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) would make changes to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation’s (FCIC) ten-member Board of Directors. The FCIC is a government-owned corporation that finances the federal crop insurance program’s (FCIP’s) operations. There are currently four seats for agricultural producers on the board, of which one must be a producer of specialty crops. This bill designates two of the remaining three open seats for farmers on the FCIC Board as (1) a producer of livestock and crops, and (2) an underserved producer, respectively.
The Mid-South Oilseed Double Cropping Study Act of 2023, led by Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Senator Katie Britt (R-AL), Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), would request a study from the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) on the gap in crop insurance coverage for certain winter oilseed crops, specifically canola and rapeseed, and double cropping policies. For farmers to take advantage of opportunities in renewable diesel and Sustainable Aviation Fuel, they need the assurance that crop insurance—such as Catastrophic Risk Protection, Yield Protection, Revenue Protection, or Revenue Protection with Harvest Price Exclusion—will be eligible in their counties for these crops and practices. To address crop insurance gaps that may exist, RMA and FCIC need analysis of winter oilseed crop and double-cropping production practices and opportunities.
These bills build on Senator Tuberville’s legislation to address issues facing our agriculture community such as the Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act, which would establish safeguards against foreign purchases of American farmland. Alabama is one of the most susceptible states to foreign agriculture influence, with our state having the third-highest amount of foreign-owned land in the country.
One key provision of the FARM Act would add the Secretary of Agriculture to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) to give the agriculture industry a say in reviewing foreign investment and ownership in domestic businesses. The current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture during the Clinton administration, Mike Espy, have both endorsed this provision, underscoring the need for the agriculture community to have a seat at the table when it comes to reviewing foreign investments in the U.S.
Additionally, Senator Tuberville is concerned with rising input costs continuing to cut into farmers’ bottom lines and making it difficult to do what they do best: farm. That’s why he helped introduce legislation to eliminate the federal Estate Tax, often called the Death Tax, to prevent any more family farms from going out of business due to this burdensome regulation. Instead of inhibiting production, the federal government needs to focus on creating an economic environment that preserves small businesses and family farms and incentivizes the next generation to enter the industry to continue feeding and fueling our nation.
Senator Tuberville also helped introduce the Feral Swine Eradication Act to extend and make permanent the pilot program established in the 2018 Farm Bill. The legislation would continue to safeguard public health, agriculture, and local ecosystems against the threat of feral swine. Feral swine impede farmers’ livelihoods and our national food supply, causing more than $1.5 billion in damages annually. Over the last five years, feral swine have impacted more than 173,000 acres in Alabama.
This year, Senator Tuberville was named the top Republican of the AG Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, which enables him to build on his work to expand broadband access for rural communities.
Senator Tuberville’s first hearing as Ranking Member of Rural Development and Energy—titled “Rural Broadband: Connecting our Communities to the Digital Economy”—focused on ways to expand broadband access in rural communities and incorporate these programs in the 2023 Farm Bill. Senator Tuberville invited Rainsville native and CEO of Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative Inc. (FTC), Frank Johnson, to testify before the subcommittee about successful broadband expansion technologies he’s seen through his work to increase service speeds for rural areas.
In addition to the Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, Senator Tuberville serves on the Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade, and Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.