According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “The United States addresses agricultural and food policy through a variety of programs, including nutrition assistance, crop insurance, commodity support, and conservation. Much of the legal framework for agricultural and food policy is set through a legislative process that occurs approximately every 5 years. The current farm law, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Act), was signed on December 20, 2018, and will remain in force through 2023…” Before you assume that this legislation only affects US Farms, it actually affects most people living and eating in the US.
Many things were accomplished with the Agriculture Improvement Acts of 2018 (Farm Bill 2018), nutrition and food access will always be the leader and most focus but being in an ag-tech business, the rural broadband initiative was probably the one that really led farmers and farms forward with tech in rural US. Everything is critically important in this legislation, but can you imagine operating a business off of dial-up internet and poor communication? And now, in 2023, it is time for updating.
Our national and local political leaders are currently faced with the next Farm Bill legislation and its challenges. Alabama’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Rick Pate, invited me to a Farm Bill Roundtable Event with Senator Tuberville to get a first-hand point of view on the process and to participate in a discussion of all things affecting our agriculture business. This next round of legislative spending is estimated at $1.5 trillion. Where and how will this money be spent? Those are the questions to which Commissioner Pate and Senator Tuberville were scouring the state for answers.
The discussions at the table varied from increased nutrient and fertilizer costs causing crop & food prices to rise, feral pigs, H-2A visas for temporary labor, automation, mechanization and even AI. A wide variety of Alabama Ag businesses were there – nurseries, seafood, timber, family farms and – me – representing a generational Alabama Family Farming Business and AgTech. It was great to be included in such a talented group of businesspeople and leaders who are open-eared and working for actionable results. Alabama is in good hands! Let’s see where our next five years with the Farm Bill 2023 will end up. I know I will be watching and following.