Ensuring a strong future for agriculture

Nebraska has a lot to celebrate during National Ag Week.  Thanks to the hard work and innovative practices of our farmers and ranchers, the Third District is the top-producing agriculture district in the country.  We are grateful for their many contributions to our lives and economy, and committed to ensuring a strong future for the industry.
One in four Nebraska jobs is tied to agriculture.  Our state ranks number one in beef exports and the production of red meat, popcorn, and Great Northern beans, and is among the top states for cattle, corn, and soybeans.  Because of producers’ daily dedication, Nebraska is a leader in feeding the world.
As we celebrate agriculture, we must also recognize the hardships.  Recent wildfires in multiple states, including our own, have led to widespread devastation.  More than a million acres have burned, with staggering losses of livestock, homes, farm buildings, feed supplies, and even human life.  The thoughts and prayers of the entire agriculture community are with those who have been impacted by these disasters.  
For too long, the growing list of federal regulations has threatened agriculture’s future.  These burdens come on top of low commodity prices.  The Trump administration has taken action to get the government out of the way, including starting to roll back the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) dangerous Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS.  Nebraska producers are committed stewards of our natural resources and take many steps to keep our water sources clean.  I was pleased to join President Trump at the White House last month as he ordered a reset on WOTUS, knowing farmers and ranchers do not need Washington bureaucrats controlling the water puddles and irrigation ditches on their land.
Nebraska ranks number two in the country for ethanol production capacity at more than two billion gallons.  This fuel source is a sought-after alternative for consumers and retailers, but outdated EPA regulations inhibit the sale of E15 during the summer months when demand is highest.  E10 received a waiver from these regulations decades ago, and I have reintroduced my legislation to extend the same relief to E15.  
Sound agriculture policies are a crucial part of ensuring farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to succeed.  As Congress prepares to draft a new Farm Bill, I will host listening sessions over the coming months to hear directly from Third District producers.  Two sessions are scheduled for April: Monday, April 17, in Scottsbluff, and Thursday, April 20, in Aurora.  For more information about these events, please visit my website at AdrianSmith.house.gov/FarmBillTour or call my Grand Island office at 308-384-3900.
Agriculture’s success also hinges on opening new markets to U.S. producers.  The Trump administration has made clear its intention to pursue bilateral trade agreements, and as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue advocating for engagement in the global marketplace.  
We are already seeing the results of U.S. inaction on trade.  Australia, which recently negotiated a trade agreement with Japan, now enjoys reduced tariffs on many of its agriculture exports while U.S. exports still face costly barriers.  Countries around the world will continue to move forward on agreements like this with or without us, so we must be part of the conversation.  
Throughout the year, I get to visit with young Nebraskans involved in groups like 4-H and FFA.  Our conversations make me even more excited about the future.  I am grateful to work with producers of all ages from all parts of the Third District to keep opportunity growing for agriculture.

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