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Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: Working on a Farm Bill for Nebraska

Pete Ricketts Weekly Column

Congress is supposed to pass a new Farm Bill every five years. The Farm Bill is crucial and complex. It deals with everything from conservation to crop insurance to trade and nutrition programs. The current Farm Bill will expire this fall. With farmers’ net income projected to drop 25% this year, it’s particularly important that Congress act soon.

Last year, Senator Deb Fischer and I hosted Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) in Nebraska. We heard directly from producers about the priorities needed in a comprehensive Farm Bill. After years of work, Ranking Member Boozman recently released a Farm Bill framework. The framework ensures Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to navigate current and future challenges.

The Farm Bill framework includes critical Nebraska priorities. It rightly puts “more farm in the farm bill.” The framework modernizes the risk management tools farmers rely on. It improves crop insurance coverage and affordability. It doubles funding for trade promotion programs that help us open new markets overseas. It expands voluntary, working lands-based conservation programs by more than 25%. These modernization provisions reflect the needs of the women and men who do the hard work of feeding and fueling the world.

Three bipartisan pieces of legislation I’ve introduced are included as well. My SNAP Next Step Act, authored with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), will help individuals on SNAP get off government assistance and into the workforce. My Flood Protection and Infrastructure Resilience Act, authored with Senator Gillibrand, will help communities not just recover from disasters but reduce future damage as well. My Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Act, authored with Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), will extend and enhance a program making low-interest loans and grants available to rural microentrepreneurs.

The framework contains many other legislative efforts I support. It doubles critical research funding to help spur the innovations of tomorrow. It provides significant, mandatory funding to improve agricultural research facilities at colleges of agriculture and land-grant institutions like the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. That’s a win-win for everyone.

The plan also strengthens the BioPreferred Program. This not only supports the bioeconomy, but also reduces our dependence on fossil fuels from our adversaries. The framework contains the “Farm to Fly Act,” which allows for greater production of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). It incorporates the “TSP Access Act,” which streamlines the Technical Service Providers (TSP) process to make conservation assistance more accessible to producers. Supporting food security is key for our national security.

Ensuring the strength of our agriculture sector is critical for Nebraska and for our country. That’s because agriculture is the heart and soul of our state. A comprehensive Farm Bill should support our farmers and ranchers. This framework does that. I’m grateful to Ranking Member Boozman for incorporating so much of what Senator Fischer and I shared with him during his visit to Nebraska. I hope my Democratic colleagues will join us in supporting this framework.

My team and I are here to serve you. Contact us anytime by phone at 202-224-4224. You can also view my website at