“When I came to Washington, I promised Alabama’s farmers that I would be their voice”
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) joined Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in a new bipartisan effort to urge Senate Agriculture Committee leadership to secure Southeastern agricultural priorities in the Senate Farm Bill draft. The Senators’ top priorities include: protecting crop insurance and farm safety net programs, addressing disaster assistance programs, and advocating for specialty crop producers. The letter was sent to the Democratic and Republican leadership of the Senate Agriculture committee, Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR).
“When I came to Washington, I promised Alabama’s farmers that I would be their voice,” said Senator Tuberville. “Southeast agriculture is a vital part of our nation’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.”
The letter can be found here and below.
Dear Chair Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman,
Thank you for your efforts to support our nation’s farmers, foresters, and rural communities through your work leading the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee. As Senators representing Georgia and Alabama, we write to express support for the careful consideration of Southeastern agricultural priorities throughout the Farm Bill drafting process.
Agriculture is one of the leading industries in both Georgia and Alabama, contributing billions annually to our states’ economies. From pecans and peanuts, to cotton, specialty crops, and forests, Southeastern agriculture plays a significant role in our nation’s agricultural profile and should play a significant role in this year’s Farm Bill reauthorization process.
We are already working in a bipartisan fashion to ensure our constituents’ concerns are addressed through the introduction of several historic pieces of legislation. Specifically, we are seeking to extend and make permanent the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program to reduce the threat feral swine pose to our farmers’ land, livelihoods, and bottom lines. Additionally, through the recently introduced Farm Board Act, we aim to amend the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation’s Board of Directors to ensure it is representative of our nation’s livestock and underserved producers. To aid our foresters, we partnered on the Disaster Reforestation Act to carve out a tax deduction for losses of uncut timber.
Other top priorities for the Southeastern states in this Farm Bill include protecting critical crop insurance and farm safety net programs, addressing disaster assistance programs, advocating for specialty crop producers, and deploying broadband in our rural communities. Considering the Farm Bill is often a regional negotiation more than a political one, we appreciate the opportunity to jointly advance the bipartisan priorities of our farmers, foresters, and producers across the Southeast.
Thank you for your consideration of our important requests. Southeastern agriculture is vital to our nation’s economy and food security, and we believe it is our duty to advocate on behalf of our producers. We look forward to working with members of the Committee to forge a Farm Bill that reflects our commitment to our states’ producers.
As Alabama’s voice on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Coach Tuberville is committed to supporting Alabama’s farmers and producers.
Last month, Senator Tuberville introduced the Farmers’ Market Expansion Act to add tree nuts, including pecans, to USDA’s Seniors’ Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. This would provide a new market for pecan producers and allow seniors increased access to nutritious, locally-sourced pecan products.
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.
The U.S. Senate added a key part of Senator Tuberville’s legislation to the national defense bill with an amendment that would block the purchases of U.S. farmland by China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran and add the Secretary of Agriculture to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
Senator Tuberville is also 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.