The importance of a strong agriculture economy to the state of Nebraska and our entire nation cannot be overstated. Often overlooked in policy conversations, the products supplied by farmers and ranchers are fundamental to fueling our lives, filling our plates, putting shirts on our backs, and so much more. Yet, American ag producers currently face a bevy of historic crises which threaten their livelihoods and the long-term health of our economy. This comes at a time when relief for Americans suffering because of inflation and the security of the global food supply depends heavily on the American agriculture industry.
Addressing these challenges must begin by taking action to relieve high input costs. Increases in the cost of fuel, fertilizer, and other overhead necessary for successful ag operations are putting severe pressure on producers. The national average for the price of gas recently exceeded five dollars per gallon and diesel prices are up 115 percent. Natural gas is up 202 percent. The cost of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizers increased 125 in 2021, followed by another 17 percent the first three months of this year.
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The Biden administration must take steps to provide relief. This includes taking immediate action to expedite permitting for domestic energy production and transportation, updating the federal definition of critical minerals to include potash and phosphate, and withdrawing recently proposed revisions to the National Environment Policy Act.
Instead, we’re seeing daily that President Biden and House Democrats just don’t get it. This week the House passed a bill pitting different agriculture industries against one another. While I strongly support components of the bill, such as year-round E-15, it is unacceptable to take a partisan bill which is broadly opposed by livestock and agriculture groups – the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act – and try to sneak it through Congress by pairing it with bills with broad support in rural communities, like legislation to pave the way for year-round E-15. As co-chair of the congressional Biofuels Caucus, I have long supported year-round E-15. I first introduced a year-round E-15 bill in 2015, and you’d have a hard time finding someone more pro-ethanol than me in Congress. This package cannot pass the Senate, and I am incredibly disappointed House Democrats thing pandering over substantive legislation which would actually address the causes of inflation.
Similarly, efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to advance proposed changes to Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rules continue to create uncertainty for farmers, inhibiting their ability to effectively plan for the future. Additionally, a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule proposed March 21, 2022, “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors,” would saddle farmers, regardless of farm size, to track and report data in a way with which many simply cannot afford to comply. No one thinks more about the weather than the American farmer, yet the Biden administration is prioritizing onerous climate-related regulation which places small farms and ag businesses at risk of going out of business.
Recently I joined nearly 100 of my colleagues in sending a letter to the president calling for an end to harmful regulatory barriers. Furthermore, to pursue immediate relief to hard-working American families, I joined the Republican Leader of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. GT Thompson, in introducing the Reducing Farm Input Costs and Barriers to Domestic Production Act. This bill would provide clarity on WOTUS, rescind the aforementioned SEC rule, and eliminate additional red tape in order to unleash the potential of our world-leading producers. We cannot afford to miss the mark on providing certainty to those who feed, clothe, and fuel the globe, which is why I won’t stop fighting for Nebraska’s producers.