Hyde-Smith Subcommittee Conducts First of Two Farm Bill Hearings, Tunica Cotton Farmer Testifies 

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VIDEO CLIP:  Senator Hyde-Smith Discusses Updating the Farm Safety Net.
VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Seeks Input from Witnesses.
VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith’s Opening Statement.
TEXT:  Senator Hyde-Smith’s Opening Statement.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today helped lead a 2023 Farm Bill hearing to receive testimony from producers on improving farm safety net programs that help sustain U.S. agriculture sectors through a myriad of hardships.

Hyde-Smith is ranking member of the Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade Subcommittee that conducted the first of a two-part hearing on Commodity Programs, Credit, and Crop Insurance.  Patrick Johnson of Tunica, representing the National Cotton Council, was among 12 witnesses at Part One of the hearing, titled Producer Perspectives on the Farm Safety Net.

“This committee must get this right in the 2023 Farm Bill,” Hyde-Smith said.  “The farm safety net is the backbone of our nation's agricultural policy.  It provides protection for producers who may face unforeseen losses and setbacks that are beyond our control.”  

The Senate Agriculture Committee is working to write a new five-year farm bill to authorize USDA agricultural, rural development, forestry, and nutrition programs through 2028.  The 2018 Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30, 2023.

“Time after time I hear from producers that the current safety net is inadequate, especially for seed cotton and rice.  Statutory reference prices for the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs were calculated in the 2014 Farm Bill using data from 2012—more than a decade ago,” Hyde-Smith said.

“The existing reference prices don’t reflect recent global events that have disrupted the American agriculture industry—including the China trade wars, the COVID pandemic, and the war in Ukraine,” she added.  “Increasing input costs, many of which are thanks to President Biden’s war on American energy, have also contributed to the inadequacy of our reference prices.”

Hyde-Smith focused her questioning of witnesses, which also included American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, on how the pressures and hardships experienced by producers today should guide changes to Titles I and XI that authorize safety net programs.

Johnson’s testimony discussed “increased production costs, sluggish consumer demand, and supply chain disruptions,” while advocating for more resources to update the Agricultural Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage, and crop insurance programs to meet existing and future challenges facing U.S. agricultural production.

At 10 a.m. ET, Thursday, May 4, Hyde-Smith and Subcommittee Chair Tina Smith (D-Minn.) will also preside over Part Two of the hearing, titled Industry Perspectives on Risk Management and Access to Credit.  Witnesses at this hearing will include Phillip D. Morgan of Ridgeland, testifying on behalf of the Farm Credit Council and William Cole of Batesville, testifying on behalf of the Crop Insurance Professionals Association.