There’s no better group of people to bring together to talk about what should be included in the next farm bill than a bunch of Iowans.
That’s why I hosted my first listening session on the 2023 Farm Bill with a group of agriculture leaders at the Dallas County Fairgrounds in Adel on June 29.
I want Iowans to be involved in the process so I can make sure I have the right information on what’s working well and what’s not, what programs we could tweak, where we’ve got gaps and where we should expand.
I will bring this information back to the House Agriculture Committee with me so I can make sure Iowan’s have a seat at the table with me as we start putting together the next farm bill.
I already know we are going to be very focused on expanding conservation opportunities — including providing more technical assistance to help farmers deliver results — and on improving access to rural development programs so more communities across Iowa can thrive.
I’ll also continue to support a strong crop insurance title and farm safety net to ensure our family farmers can make ends meet with disasters strike.
While back in Iowa during June, I was focused on helping the agriculture community and the folks in rural parts of the Third Congressional District.
I joined USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for an event at Chris and Lori Nelson’s farm near Minburn, where we announced emergency funding for derecho relief that is now available to farmers and producers.
I fought hard for this relief — from going against my party to support an amendment in the House Agriculture Committee to numerous calls and discussions with my colleagues on the urgency and need for this relief. Last September President Biden signed into law $10 billion dollars of emergency relief funds, and I was the only member of Iowa’s delegation to vote for the legislation.
The law provided $10 billion to help agricultural producers impacted by severe weather events — including the derecho — during 2020 and 2021. The USDA has already delivered more than $4 billion through the program, known as the Emergency Relief Program (ERP), yet there are nearly 8,000 farmers in Iowa that are eligible who have yet to complete their applications.
I strongly encourage any farmer who suffered losses from 2020 and 2021 disasters to contact your county FSA office before the deadline of July 22 in order to make sure all Iowans who qualify can take advantage of the program.
USDA State Executive Director Matt Russell and USDA State Director Theresa Greenfield joined me for the events on the Nelsons’ farm and in Adel and for a roundtable discussion in Minburn with representatives from local internet providers, community colleges and telehealth service providers to talk about the importance of closing the broadband gap in Iowa.
Broadband is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. Kids should not have to do their homework in the parking lot of the local McDonald’s, and rural businesses and communities need high speed internet to compete.
Last year, I was the only member of Iowa’s congressional delegation who voted for the American Rescue Plan, which this January provided $210 million to build out Iowa’s broadband system. As just one example of the work this supports, Huxley Communications received $9.5 million for fiber projects in Boone, Dallas and Polk counties.
I’m looking forward to seeing what this money can do for our communities and how expanding connectivity can help draw people and businesses to previously underserved parts of the district.
There’s a lot more I’m fighting for on behalf of rural Iowa, including securing investments for housing, expanding telehealth options, creating a fairer cattle market and helping recruit and train new first responders and law enforcement personnel to help better serve our communities.
More information about what I’m working on and my full Rural Prosperity Agenda is available on my website, Axne.House.Gov.
Rep. Cindy Axne of West Des Moines represents Iowa’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.