Local farmers concerned with new 2023 farm bill

(ABC 6 News) – Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) was in Northern Iowa today talking with local cattle farmers about concerns they have with the upcoming 2023 Farmers Bill.

Throughout the discussion, local farmers discussed ways to make a program known as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) better for farmers.

CRP is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Farmers can enroll in the program, choosing to allocate portions of their land into the program. In turn, farmers cannot use the land for any type of production or grazing for cattle.

With high competition with production and the need for money, farmers are asking for more flexibility with the program and to find a happy medium.

At the roundtable, farmers discussed solutions to this problem with Senator Ernst.

"We see the benefit in having managed appropriate grazing on those CRP acres in a more frequent basis rather than having so many limitations and restrictions in place," said Cora Fox, the Director of Government Relations for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

They also discussed giving more power to local FSA committees to know what works best for each region.

"Even within Iowa, we have so much diversity, so what might work for southern Iowa or eastern or western, may not work for northeast Iowa," cattle farmer and member of the local FSA committee, Garth Griffin, said. "It would be nice to have a little more latitude in our decisions as a county committee as to how we appropriate money and that type of stuff in the CRP programs."

The goal of the roundtable was to make farmer’s voices heard, all the way to Washington D.C.

"For the 2023 Farm Bill, I think it’s important that we as cattle producers maintain a seat at the table in all of those discussions," Fox said. "Just making sure that they truly understand the impact of the decisions that are made in D.C. and how they affect folks on their farms."

Senator Ernst made two more stops in northern Iowa, both in Bremer county and Franklin county, all a part of her 99 county tour.