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Senator Tom Brewer
I was invited to the White House this week to be present for the President’s signing of the Farm Bill. It was an amazing opportunity to meet the President and see the White House, and be a part of a bill-signing ceremony. I’ve never done anything like this and was very honored to get such an invitation. In addition to the President, there were quite a few dignitaries in attendance. The Vice President, the Secretary of Agriculture and numerous members of Congress. Spending any time at all in Washington, D.C. reminds me of how blessed we are to live in this country.
I sat next to our Congressman, Representative Adrian Smith, and we watched the ceremony from the second row of the audience. He shared with me all the challenges he was dealing with in Congress, and the all political maneuvering going on in anticipation of the new Congress that will be sworn in this January. He also shared some of his experiences from the time he was a state senator in the Nebraska legislature which I found invaluable.
The Farm Bill does a number of good things. Getting enough elected officials to all agree on something is extremely difficult and only happens when there is a little something for everyone in the bill, so there are a lot of things in the Farm Bill.
The crop insurance portion of the bill as well as the funds to provide relief to farmers impacted by hurricanes is good. The bill reauthorizes the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, which is very important right now because of our terribly low commodity prices.
The bill gives the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers affected by our country’s struggle to correct the unfair trade practices that have been going on a very long time. Part of the bill addresses the on-going opioid addiction problem we see in many rural areas. It also takes steps to help bring broad-band internet to rural areas.
The bill reverses a very old law and now makes industrial hemp legal. This crop was grown by the millions of acres during World War II, a lot of that was in Nebraska. Hemp doesn’t require a lot of water and you can get two crops a year from this plant. There is no infrastructure in place for this crop, and the market for it in the US is in its infancy so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
President Trump signed it the Farm Bill into law even though it lacked the administration’s much-sought-after changes to the food stamp program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program (Food Stamps). In a move that would sidestep Congress, the Agriculture Department unveiled a regulatory proposal to expand work requirements for those in receiving food assistance. USDA officials predict the rule change will save taxpayers $15 billion dollars over a decade.
From all of us here in my office, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at;email@example.com. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.