LUBBOCK, Texas — With extreme heat, lack of rain and for some, too much rain, West Texas farmers, like Clay Graves have had a hard time. But they’re hoping the 2023 Farm Bill brings some relief.

“I would like more access to other markets. I would like better trade deals, those [to] be strengthened and we need our support system raised,” expressed Graves. “Our support system was set in the 70s and I don’t know about y’all, but I’m not paying the same money for anything that we were in the 70s.” 

U.S. Representative Jodey Arrington agreed that updating the safety net is important in creating the bill, along with setting a fair reference price so farmers get paid for their work. Arrington also mentioned he hopes to improve risk management tools like crop insurance. 

“It’s really a program that’s a cost share where farmers basically pay the preponderance of the cost for crop insurance,” said Arrington. “They have skin in the game and then the federal government comes in and provides some support so that they make it more affordable.”

However, Arrington said it’s been hard to get legislation through in such a polarized government, but he’s hoping the importance of the bill will help the parties work together.

“All lawmakers have to find a consensus on ag policy so that we have food security in this country, so that we have a stable ag economy and that we have a safe and affordable and abundant supply of food for our citizens,” said Arrington. “That’s what if the farm bill ultimately is there for.”

While politics has its own challenges, Graves says he’s glad the lawmakers are talking with constituents, especially about issues regarding the future of farming that this bill might help manage.

“There’s a third of the farmers today that there were 20 years ago; consolidation has driven that,” said Graves. “You’ve had to get larger to survive and the larger you get, the more risk you have, the more risk you have, the more safety net needs to be out there.”

The current farm bill from 2018 is set to expire September 30, and Arrington said lawmakers will most likely need an extension to get it all the way through Congress but doesn’t know how long that will be yet.