SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Farming is a declining industry across the country. In fact, the farm economy has seen a 52 percent decline over the last five years. A new bi-partisan bill is on the table to reverse the effects of the last 5 years.
Coined the “Farm Bill,” the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 will swing the pendulum back to a farming-friendly culture according to Alabama’s District 3 United States Representative, Mike Rogers.
One specific example of how the bill will help the farming economy is enhancing the crop insurance programs. “We want to provide a better safety net for farmers. This is a very risky business to be in,” Rogers explained. “Farmers never know what the weather will be like or what the market is going to be like.”
Rogers described the Farm Bill as a rule book for the farming industry, saying much like football, players need to know the rules of the game before getting out onto the field, taking much of the risk away from being a farmer due to many of the unknowns in the business.
A major hit to the industry, according to Rogers, has been caused by the younger generation moving away from the business. To ensure the next generation steps into the industry, the bill establishes a scholarship program at 1890 Land Grant Institutions, such as Tuskeegee University, designed to assist students going into agriculture and farming.
A major portion of the bill pertains to rural broadband. This hits close to home for Rogers as he is the representative for a very rural district. Because many rural communities will never get commercial broadband to come into their area, this bill takes a step towards getting broadband to those communities. “We have to have programs like this to make sure technology is in the rural communities,” he said. “Farmers are business owners too and they need access to the same technology as everyone else.” The bill authorizes substantial annual appropriations for rural broadband and requires USDA to establish forward-looking broadband standards.
Overall, the hope of the bill is to strengthen rural development initiatives and promote jobs and economic activity in rural America.
As he always states, Rogers is a proponent of building the southern border wall separating the United States and Mexico. As an update to his proposed Border Wall Funding Act, which, if signed into law, will levy a 2 percent fee on all money wired back to any country south of he U.S., Rogers said he is still waiting on larger legislation from President Trump to provide for the wall. Trump recently activated members of the National Guard to protect the border, and has started to build a small section of the wall.
Rogers, an alumnus of Jacksonville State University, has stayed updated on damages and repairs to his university and the Jacksonville community after recent storms. Rogers told SylacaugaNews.com he was there the first Saturday after the tornado and volunteered with his wife in relief efforts. He has also toured the school with JSU’s president to gain perspective of the amount of damage JSU had. “The state has asked for a federal declaration of disaster. Right now we are waiting on the Office of Management and Budget to finish drafting that declaration and issue it,” Rogers stated. As soon as that step is completed, Rogers said the area should be in a position to draw in federal assistance.