As Congress begins working on the 2023 Farm Bill, four Iowa lawmakers who sit on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are outlining policies they’d like to see considered, continued or improved upon.

U.S. Reps. Cindy Axne (IA-03) and Randy Feenstra (IA-04) hold seats on the House Agriculture Committee, while Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst are members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

In a House Agriculture Committee hearing last month previewing the farm bill, Feenstra said support for biofuels will be important for his northwest Iowa district, which is one of the top ethanol-producing areas in the nation. 

“How can the farm bill partner with the industry’s goal to provide this opportunity where we can be energy independent through biofuels?” he asked. “I just think this is something the farm bill needs to look at to get us not reliant on the 206,000 barrels a day of Russian oil.”

The farm bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation to assist farmers and provide for farm security, addressing everything from nutrition and crop in­surance to commodities and conservation.

Axne said she is particularly interested in how the legislation can help expand market opportunities, reduce input costs and provide certainty through a strong farm safety net.

“It’s imperative that we look at all of these and support these farm safety programs and improve them where necessary,” she said. 

“I’ll also fight for a strong conservation title that builds upon the success of previous farm bills and works for Iowa farmers.”

The Russia-Ukraine conflict may have a significant effect on agriculture and the farm bill, Feenstra added. 

Trade, the pandemic, input costs, supply chain issues, inflation and fiscal responsibility all likely will be topics of discussion that could influence policy.

“I will work to ensure that the farm bill reflects the needs and priorities of our rural communities,” he said.

Senate farm bill outlook

Grassley said he’s hearing from Iowa farmers about preserving the farm bill’s existing programs, most importantly crop insurance.  

Farmers also see programs that supplement income when prices are below the cost of production as very important, he said. The Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs may be reviewed due to increased inflation, Grassley said.

Ernst said she looks forward to working with her colleagues on the 2023 Farm Bill.

“As we begin negotiations on the upcoming farm bill, I will continue to engage with Iowans across the state, on my 99 county tour and elsewhere, to ensure we craft farmers-first legislation that will support the needs of Iowa’s agriculture industry,” she said.