A Kansas Republican says he wants to make sure crop insurance is protected if any kind of permanent disaster program is written into the upcoming farm bill. 

Speaking on this week’s Agri-Pulse NewsmakersRep. Tracey Mann, R-Kan., says crop insurance is a top priority for him in the farm bill.

“Do we make major changes specific to crop insurance? I don’t believe that we do — I think producers like it … we need to make sure that it is strengthened moving forward.” 

When discussing whether or not permanent disaster language should be included in the farm bill, Mann says given the way weather conditions have played out the last couple of years, it’s worth looking into, but that there may be more efficient ways to provide assistance than ad hoc disaster funding.

“I absolutely think it's something we should look at. What that ends up looking like, I think is to be determined and we're in the very early stages of that,” said Mann, adding that crop insurance should continue “to be an essential part of the farm safety net.”

Looking ahead to the next Congress, Mann called trade and oversight his other top priorities, pointing to the value of the Market Access Program. "There's a great return on investment of those dollars spent," he said. "The continued future of agriculture has to be in expanding markets to create demand outside of our borders."

Oversight issues he mentioned include forthcoming "waters of the U.S." regulations and the Biden Administration's "30 by 30" plan to conserve water and land.

Jake Westlin, vice president of policy and communications for the National Association of Wheat Growers, says a permanent disaster program is something his organization is continuing to have conversations on about how it works with crop insurance.

“We've been focused on crop insurance as our number-one priority, and making sure that if there is a disaster aid program that it works for row crops and for wheat growers,” said Westlin.

Ariel Wiegard, director of government affairs for the American Soybean Association, joined in the panel discussion and applauded the increased funding for conservation programs that was made through the Inflation Reduction Act, but also said Congress “cannot ignore the bigger picture” by not increasing investment in areas of the farm bill.

“Those Title I farm programs need a fresh look — we need funding for research, for Rural Development, trade promotion, the nutrition title,” said Wiegard. She added that Congress has told ASA that outside the Inflation Reduction Act there is not going to be any new funding in the Farm Bill.

“We're also trying to be realistic about the fact that there are going to be a lot of hard conversations and hard choices to make next year,” said Wiegard.

Mark Dopp, chief operating officer of the North American Meat Institute, also joins this week’s show to discuss NAMI’s farm bill priorities and what cattle legislation could look like if added to the next farm bill. 

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