It makes me very proud to be your representative on the Senate Agriculture Committee. I know the long hours that you work, especially during harvest. And I promise you: it does not go unnoticed. I pay close attention to farm prices and weather, as well as the other challenges you face every day. I know that we have a difficult farm economy right now, with prices for most farm products much lower than any of us would like. I know my job, as your hired help, is to make sure that my colleagues in Congress also know how hard you work and that we must have your backs.
Our state depends on the work you do, so let me update you on the work I’ve been doing on your behalf.
The Farm Bill:
The Farm Bill is probably the most important piece of legislation that comes through the committee. Thanks to you, we passed a good, solid five-year Farm Bill in 2014, and I’ve done my best to make sure the government implements it in a way that helps Hoosier farmers.
I’ve worked with my colleagues in the Senate this year on a bipartisan Farm Bill that passed out of the Senate with a wide bipartisan majority. But due to gridlock in Washington, the bill is held up and hasn’t made it to the President’s desk. The previous Farm Bill expired on September 30, and believe me when I say that there’s no one more frustrated by this turn of events than me. You deserve stability and certainty from Washington, and I’m working as hard as I can to make sure you have that.
I’m confident the new Farm Bill will be signed into law soon though, and when it is, it’ll be a bill that provides the help you need. You are the real authors of the work I’ve done on it — I may have helped to write it, but I take my marching orders from you. I take great pride in visiting every county in the state and listening to what you need. And thanks to those conversations, I do my part to make sure we come up with a bill that has strong crop insurance, price support programs, and good funding for broadband access in rural areas. I’m committed to passing this bill that has strong export promotion programs to fight the damage done by tariffs because that’s what I’ve heard from Hoosier farmers.
President Trump’s trade policies have hit farmers hard. Since late May, crop prices have dropped dramatically, about 20% in some cases. You’re having a hard time, and many of you shared your experiences with me. I sat down with the president personally, and I told him what you’ve been telling me for the last few months. These tariffs are hurting farmers. They’re hurting Hoosiers.
The Department of Agriculture has approved $4.7 billion in financial assistance for farmers impacted by the tariffs. It’s just the first installment of a $12 billion package to help producers in seven industries: corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat.
I’ve spoken to many of you who say you want trade, not aid. Even a $12 billion aid package isn’t nearly enough to offset the losses caused by tariffs, and I hear you. Hard-working Hoosier farmers don’t want a handout — they want access to their markets back, and that won’t happen until these overly broad tariffs stop. I understand how critical this is and that the damage to our reputation as a reliable supplier may be even more harmful in the years to come than it is now. I’m going to work with my committee colleagues from both parties — and President Trump — to get this done for you.
Cutting red tape:
When I came to Washington, the first thing I noticed was the bureaucracy. I’ve worked hard to keep them in check and make sure their red tape doesn’t constrict Hoosier farmers.
When the EPA tried to put the Clean Water Rule into place, I knew their expanded definition of waters of the United States (WOTUS) would have a negative impact on farmers and folks who make a living off the land. So, I fought the implementation of the rule — and we won. Earlier this year, the EPA announced a two-year delay. Until then, I’ll work with the administration to rewrite the rule so it makes sense for everyone, especially Hoosier farmers.
And when I heard that the EPA was requiring farmers to spend their time and hard-earned money on filing burdensome reports that were never going to be used, I knew that was just more Washington bureaucracy. I worked across the aisle to sponsor the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act, or FARM Act, and I’m pleased that the Senate passed the bill. It’s time politicians in Washington did their jobs properly, so you can do yours.
The best part of being your senator is traveling around the state, having conversations with Hoosiers. That’s why I live in Indiana and come to Washington to work, and it’s why I visit all 92 counties. Your opinions and input are priceless to me. Every decision I make in Washington comes from conversations I have in Indiana with folks like you. So, thank you — for always speaking up and telling me what Hoosier farmers need. Your livelihood is the lifeblood of our state, and I’m proud to be your voice in Washington.
And once again, congratulations on all the wonderful work you’ve done this year and be safe as you complete harvest.