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Farm Bill, Extension Discussed at RNC

MILWAUKEE, (DTN) -- House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn "GT" Thompson of Pennsylvania and Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, both offered their views on the state of the farm bill and the impact of the upcoming election at a Politico/CNN event at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

Thompson suggested the upcoming election "wouldn't change how he or other Hill Republicans approach the farm bill negotiation process in the coming months, highlighting the bipartisan proposals he included in the House committee's package," Politico said in a report based on the event it held with CNN.

"I didn't do that to get their (Democrats') vote. I did it because there were good ideas that contributed to a strong farm bill," Thompson said. "That is not going to change for me when Republicans take the White House. I think that's the way we should do legislation, especially in the agriculture area, and so I'm looking forward to continuing with that type of approach."

Boozman said he will still push for bipartisan progress on the farm bill in the coming months.

"We're going to be working very hard to get that over the finish line," he said.

Boozman, however, said farmers would be "better off" if lawmakers passed another farm bill extension this fall to allow more time to improve key federal programs instead of settling for a bill that won't do enough to support agricultural producers, Politico reported.

But Boozman added, "You never know. We work so hard on these things, and then all of a sudden they come together. And, so, hopefully that's the case. I think [Thompson] working hard to get it across the floor of the House will be helpful."

Thompson and Boozman noted that former President Donald Trump's selection of Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance as his running mate could win him some favor with rural voters, Politico said.

The two highlighted Vance's Appalachian upbringing -- the subject of Vance's 2016 memoir, "Hillbilly Elegy" -- in arguing that he will be able to connect with voters from rural areas and keep their issues top of mind in a potential Trump administration.

"It really helps to know that he understands the challenges of rural America," Thompson said, adding that Vance has "been good on agriculture issues."

"Ohio is a neighbor," Thompson noted.

Boozman said he's "excited" about Trump's vice-presidential pick, having followed Vance's career since reading his book.

"I got interested in J.D. way before he ran for the Senate," Boozman said. "I think he understands how important the agriculture community is."

Both Thompson and Boozman said they do not support the proposals in Project 2025, which is backed by the Heritage Foundation and contains slashing crop subsidies and significant rollbacks to federal nutrition programs.

Several of the writers of Project 2025 served in the Trump administration, but Trump has sought to distance himself from that effort.

"We just have a very, very different opinion as to what we need to do to the programs," Boozman said.

"I think Heritage is a great organization," added Thompson, "but they could really use some new folks when it comes to understanding the impact on rural America."

Asked about Trump's proposals to increase tariffs, Boozman said President Biden has not reduced the tariffs Trump imposed and has not worked to increase exports. Boozman said he was "not alarmed" and noted that under Biden agricultural imports have exceeded exports. Boozman also said, "Unions don't like trade, the Biden administration doesn't like trade."

Thompson noted that despite the retaliatory impacts of Trump's tariffs, the Trump administration worked on trade and increased sales in some markets. Thompson also said the Biden administration had been late to fill the posts of chief agricultural trade negotiator and Agriculture undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, but that both Senate-confirmed officials -- Doug McKalip and Alexis Taylor, respectively -- are high-quality officials.

In a separate session, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee who is running to be the Republican leader in the Senate, said he hopes for a farm bill deal this fall. Still, Thune said the Senate calendar is so full before and after the election that Thune would predict an extension with Congress taking up the farm bill early next year.

Thune said it is important to lower input costs, particularly energy, and shore up the commodity title and risk management programs. On trade, Thune said he is not an advocate of tariffs because they encourage retaliation, and any tariffs that Trump might impose in a second administration should be targeted to those countries that have been practicing unfair trade. If the tariffs proposals are "uniform across the board ... we are going to have some serious conversations about that," Thune said.

Politico also interviewed Jessica Christianson, the crop science head of sustainability and business stewardship at Bayer, which Heidi Sommer, vice president of media solutions in North America at Politico, described as a "partner" in the event. Christianson emphasized the importance of innovation in agriculture and said farmers can contribute to fighting climate change, but they must make a profit. Christianson urged passage of the farm bill.

This article contained information from Politico and quotes from video posted on social platform X.

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Hagstrom Sidelined by Gall Bladder Surgery

OCONOMOWOC, Wis. -- I am writing Wednesday from the Pro Health Hospital, where I had emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder.

This means I will not be able to cover the Republican convention as I had planned.

On Monday, I traveled here on my way to Milwaukee. In the evening, just after I finished writing my Tuesday edition, analyzing the Republican convention and the selection of J.D. Vance as former President Trump's running mate, I developed a terrible stomach ache. By 2 a.m., it had gotten so painful I decided I had to go to the hospital. I didn't dare drive my rental car, there are no taxis here and Uber did not respond. My hotel called for an ambulance to transport me to the emergency room.

When I arrived, the tests showed that I had gallstones and the surgeon recommended removal of the gallbladder. I had surgery later the same day. (Remember, it was 2 a.m. when I arrived.)

I am very well treated at this hospital. There are healthy food choices among the offerings, but Midwestern foods, even if nutritionists do not consider them healthy, are on the menu. I had an omelet with bacon and vegetables, yogurt and fruit for breakfast. But when the hospital offered a cinnamon roll "baked fresh daily," I could not resist.

As soon as the surgeon says I can travel by plane to Washington, I will be back. In the meantime, my reports will consist of articles from a distance.

See, "Vance Has Little History in Ag Policy, But He Has Rural Roots and a Story,"

https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Also see, "Farm Programs, USDA Would Shrink Under Project 2025 Goals for Ag,"

https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@nationaljournal.com

Follow him on social platform X @hagstromreport