Conaway optimistic on passage of 2018 farm bill
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway is optimistic that the 2018 Farm Bill is heading in the right direction.
The Texas politician shared his insights during a conference call organized by the American Dairy Coalition on Dec. 13. Emphasizing there have been over 100 hearings and listening sessions concerning the legislation, he said, “We’re ready to go.”
In earlier press interviews Conaway said that a working draft of the bill had already been sent to the Congressional Budget Office, adding that he was meeting that day with Senate Ag Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS).
During the American Dairy Coalition’s (ADC) Annual Business Meeting, Conaway stressed the importance of producers’ voices in pushing progress on immigration reform.
"As an industry, we must continue to share our story with elected officials. Share personal experiences, help your elected officials understand why current visa programs do not work for employee shortages and what your future looks like without access to reliable labor," he said.
During the meeting, attended by producers and allied businesses of the dairy industry from across the nation, Conaway urged ADC to rally the dairy industry into a united front for the 2018 Farm Bill.
"Everything is on track for the Farm Bill to be brought to the House Floor early next year and the final Farm Bill to be completed by next Fall," he said.
Rep. Conaway also addressed rising concerns over a lack of a reliable safety net tool for the dairy industry. He discussed new policy that is moving forward that will improve current tools dairy producers are using for risk management because of the continued loss of profitability due to depressed milk prices. ADC will release more details as they become available.
Finally, Rep. Conaway addressed concerns over exports. The Chairman visited Canada and reassured ADC Members that, in spite of the strength of Canadian dairy lobbyists, he feels there is still room to complete NAFTA.
In regard to immigration reform, Conaway supports Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and his work on the AG Act to create a new H2-C visa category for Guestworkers for the dairy and agriculture industry.
Conaway says he understands the need for reliable labor in the dairy industry and urges dairy producers to share their struggles with their elected officials.
"Immigration reform is a heavy lift and currently not the top priority of Congress, making it crucial our industry continues to reach out to our Washington, D.C. legislators over and over again," he stressed. "A constant voice urging Congress to take up the difficult and controversial task of immigration reform is the only way to increase pressure on D.C. legislators to move something forward as quick as possible."