U.S. Congressmen discuss Farm Bill in Seminole

U.S. Congressmen discuss Farm Bill in Seminole

Over the past few years, farmers have suffered a 50 percent decline in disposable income, the largest drop since the Great Depression. On Friday, Congressmen from Texas and one from New Mexico visited Seminole to discuss the 2018 Farm Bill and how things can improve.

Agriculture is big business in Gaines County.

"It's vital to us that we have a strong farming economy in our county," said Seminole Mayor Wayne Mixon.

The county is dependent on oil, but also peanut, cotton and wheat farming. Supporting those farmers, supports other businesses.

"Fertilizer, cotton gins, farm equipment dealers and everybody else that makes a living off of the farmers," said Mixon.

Three congressmen visited the small city of Seminole to discuss the farm bill they are drafting. The current bill won't expire until 2018.

"I want to get a house version done as quickly as we can," said Congressman Mike Conaway.

Conaway, the chairman of the Agricultural Committee, says it's important to get a move on looking at the issues.

"Taking input from the folks that are using the Farm Bill, who are affected by it. We did a two year look at SNAP. What works, what doesn't work. We'll take all that information and begin to look at the legislation to improve it," said Conaway.

The Farm Bill is re-drafted every five years. Residents from surrounding counties were able to talk about their concerns.

"The most important thing, I think, of our jobs as congressman is to carry the conversation from here, back there. The more powerful thing is just trying to represent people here who are trying to make a living, trying to provide for their neighbors and they're trying to do it safely," said Congressman Steve Pearce, covering New Mexico's 2nd district.

Many farmers are worried about President Trump's proposed 21 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but Conaway says it's just that, a proposal and they should know more in the next month.

"The big piece of information that we don't have right now is what are the resources we'll have in order to do the things we need to get done in the Farm Bill. That is coming probably some time in may when the budget committee gets their work done," said Conaway.

The current farm bill will expire on September 30, 2018.

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