By Jennifer Dorsett
Field Editor

Farmers and ranchers continue to monitor the farm bill as discussions move forward.

Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) President Russell Boening was in Washington, D.C. this week and met with congressional leaders to underscore the importance of a new farm bill for Texas farmers and ranchers.

TFB President Russell Boening met with Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, as well as several other legislators from the U.S. House and Senate chambers.

“I met with both of our senators to thank them for their work on the farm bill, and we talked about issues that are still front and center with us–trade probably being number one,” Boening said. “We discussed the things we still need to work on and that these tariffs being levied by the administration are already having a real, measurable impact on Texas farmers and ranchers.”

Both senators noted they are aware of the situation for Texas agriculture, and they were working to ensure the administration hears these concerns.

“The message I heard from them on tariffs is they’re with us,” Boening said. “I received a very receptive response, and they’re trying to carry the message to the administration that these tariffs are actively affecting agriculture in Texas.”

Boening also visited with the senators on immigration reform and cattle fever tick eradication funding, a priority issue for Texas as the state has a permanent fever tick quarantine zone along the Texas-Mexico border.

Immigration remains a divisive subject across the nation and in the Capitol.

“That’s been a hot-button matter for many years, so it’s going to be very tough to conquer,” Boening said. “Agriculture faces a critical farm labor shortage. Immigration reform would help us address that major issue.”

Cornyn introduced an amendment to the farm bill that would allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to authorize Emergency Assistance for Livestock (ELAP) funds to help prevent the spread of cattle fever ticks. Cruz supported the legislation.

Currently, ranchers may only qualify for ELAP to gather fever tick-infested livestock. The amendment would allow funds to be used to gather livestock for fever tick inspections, not just livestock already infested and needing treatment.

Boening expressed optimism that Congress will come together to get a final farm bill on the president’s desk prior to Sept. 30, the date current farm bill legislation expires.

“Now is a vital time for us to be here in D.C. talking about the importance of the farm bill,” Boening said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done to resolve differences in the conference committee, but I’m hopeful that the committee will come up with a bill both chambers will accept. Both Senators Cornyn and Cruz seemed very positive and hopeful that they will get a bill passed.”

The House and Senate are expected to nominate members to the conference committee and begin conferencing as soon as next week.