Tuberville Questions Farmers on Industry Challenges

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) questioned Christian Good, Owner of Christian Good Farms in Mississippi, on the challenges and opportunities in agriculture for young and beginning farmers during a Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade hearing. The top concerns of many young producers are access to capital, farmland, and base acres to then qualify for commodity programs, such as the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC).

Read Senator Tuberville’s remarks below or watch on YouTube or Rumble.

TUBERVILLE: “Thanks for being here today. Great topics. Farm Bill and the future of our nation’s agriculture industry. I get very depressed when I go home to Alabama. Obviously, farmers put food on our tables, but unfortunately a lot of people across this country think that all the crops and the meat come from outback of Walmart and Publix and Piggly Wiggly. They need to wake up and smell the roses before it’s too late. We have hardworking people that believe in conservation. The EPA is unbelievably hard on our farmers, unfortunately. They need help. Everywhere I go, they need help with rise input cost, fluctuating prices. They can’t control the weather, obviously. Costs are up and income [is] coming down […] in the last few years we’ve lost 25,000 farmers that have left the industry and over 150,000 farms have closed. I talked to two farmers last week in Alabama and [they] said, ‘game set match this year if I can’t make a little money.’ [They] can’t afford to pay back the bank. We have got to open our eyes to this because we have to eat. […] So, Mr. Good, the Farm Bill that passed out of the House AG Committee allows for a one-time allocation of base acres to growers using the planting history from 2019 to 2023. Do you see this opportunity to access base as encouraging to beginning producers? What impact will this have from an economic perspective?”

GOOD: “Absolutely, great question Senator. I see the opportunity, especially in the House provision where they have an update of base for everybody. Because I think as you stated, the inflation is not choosing sides. The inflation is hitting all of us. Like I addressed earlier, we’re seeing [inflation] in seed, fertilizer, equipment, in every area. And so, to have the safety net, we see the market fluctuations address the need for more markets. So, I think the base is an opportunity. It’s a foundational piece to be able to build that risk management portfolio. And for young farmers, especially, that as we stated, their balance sheets aren’t as strong.”

TUBERVILLE: “And it’s hard to understand how just in the last two or three years the prices of this equipment has doubled and tripled and quadrupled in amount of money. I know we don’t make a lot in this country anymore. We need to get back to that, manufacturing a lot of it. [Products say] it’s made in America, but it goes by way of other countries before it actually has a USA imprint put on it. Do you see that? Are you hearing that from people that you work around?”

GOOD: “Absolutely. And I think, you know, as we look at precision agriculture, I think that’s a very vital piece. Just on my farm operation, we were able to demo the John Deere See and Spray Sprayer to be able to reduce inputs. But with this technology, there’s additional costs. And so, when we look at equipment, it seems to follow the way that the commodity markets do. And so, with farmers, we’re putting an increasing amount of our budget into equipment, which is a very big issue for us young farmers as well.”

TUBERVILLE: “Yeah. You know, at Auburn, where I live, [it is a] Land Grant University, they have a great AG school, Vet school, and we see it growing to a certain point, but I don’t understand, […] what a lot of these young people are looking at, to be honest. I know they talk to their parents about the future of farming and possibly going back and taking over their farms. There are over 20,000 young and beginning producers in Alabama—20,000. Many of whom will want to pass their farms on to the next generation. So, any of you can answer this, Mr. Good, you can start with this. Can you speak to the importance of extending President Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) provisions—such as the increased Estate Tax exemption, step-up in basis, and bonus depreciation—to support farm families?”

GOOD: “Absolutely. I think at the core of what we need is a sound tax policy. When I think about my wife, Laura, and my two boys, Caleb and Peter, I’m looking to build something. I’m looking to build something that’s meaningful. In the way that we’re feeding the world. And so, for me to not be able to pass it onto my children in a meaningful way or to give them more of a liability as a gift, I think that’s against what we’re looking to do here. So, we are my family is in full support of the step-up [in] basis and extending that Estate Tax limit.”

TUBERVILLE: “Well, God bless all farmers because you don’t get a lot of help. You get a lot of ridicule. You get the climate people looking at you wanting to change all of the rules in midstream. And that’s unfortunate because farmers care more about conservation than anybody could ever imagine. And so, thanks for what y’all do, and thanks for being here today.”

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.