Floridians flock to Newberry to discuss Farm Bill 

Congresswoman Kat Cammack presents opening remarks for the Farm Bill.
Photo by Seth Johnson

From across the state, Floridians impacted by the Farm Bill flooded into Newberry on Monday in order to speak to congressional members of the House Committee on Agriculture.  

Congress amends and passes the Farm Bill every five years, and the bill has returned for discussion this year. The House Committee on Agriculture helps draft the bill, and members on the committee have traveled the nation to engage in listening sessions.  

Florida Congresswoman Kat Cammack, District 3, sits on the committee and represents Alachua County. She hosted the Newberry event with five other congress members in attendance, including Darren Soto of Florida’s District 9. 

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Photo by Seth Johnson Floridians gathered from across the state to speak on the Farm Bill.

"We don't approach this as a party or partisan issue. We approach this as an American Farm Bill,” Cammack said in her closing remarks.  

Specializing in oranges, blueberries, sugar, peanuts and cabbage—farmers listed their concerns for the committee members. And, while called the Farm Bill, a host of other industries get lumped into the bill like landscaping and forestry.   

Participants addressed the need for mechanization and maintenance of America’s food supply, with several speakers noting that food security is national security. One blueberry farmer said he doesn’t see a future for his children in the industry, and others also talked about tightening budgets and inflation impacts.  

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, ME-District 1, spoke at the end. She highlighted the value of all the crops produced in Florida and the similarities between the two states.  

Photo by Seth Johnson Chair G.T. Thompson opens the listening session for the Farm Bill.

"While Maine is a very small agriculture state, we have some of the same concerns that you do. We are a specialty crop producer,” she said. 

She repeated a concern of speakers that agricultural land in Floridia continues to change into neighborhoods.  

Components of the 2018 version included conservation programs, subsidies and disaster aid. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the 2018 Farm Bill cost $428 billion for its five-year lifespan, and the 2023 version may increase by several hundred billion additional dollars. 

Food stamps and other assistance programs form the lion’s share of the bill’s budget, and speakers also addressed the need to continue that funding.  

Besides these programs, the bill also helps rural communities with libraries, law enforcement and a host of other grants under the Farm Bill heading.  

"There is not enough thanks to Chairman (Glenn) Thompson for his leadership in what he's doing in really crafting a thoughtful and productive and effective Farm Bill,” Cammack said.  

The 2018 Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30.  

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FOOD is everyone's concern and good working conditions should be paramount


While subsidizing many other industries and schemes, I'm sure glad they've still got the food stamp program for when all the farmers change jobs. People can eat the food stamps. OH, that's right, they're made out of plastic now.

To err is human. To really foul things up you need a government committee.