Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) will soon be returning to her former position as Chair of the Senate Ag Committee, and she’s not wasting any time.
Stabenow has already been in contact with Ranking Member John Boozeman (R-Ark.) to address agriculture’s challenges, particularly on trade.
“I’ve talked with the new U.S. Trade Rep that has been nominated—I’m confident they are committed to a stable, open trade policy,” said Stabenow. “They understand we’re in a global economy. They understand agriculture needs trade, needs markets. I feel confident moving forward even though there’s a lot of work to do that will be able to stabilize and create a more consistent trading solution.”
Additionally, Stabenow hopes to provide agriculture with more certainty, stability, and finding avenues to grow.
“Frankly, government shouldn’t be in the business of deciding what to plant and who’s profitable, which unfortunately has been happening in the last four years,” she said. “We’ve seen more than $50 billion in aid in ad hoc payments replace markets as the major driver of farm profitability—we can’t sustain that. I know our farmers don’t want that, and I expect a different approach under the Biden administration.”
Another priority of the committee under the Biden administration is combatting the climate crisis. Stabenow expects that the administration will recognize what agriculture is already doing and to make any programs producer-friendly and flexible.
“When we look at the framework for how we could create a voluntary carbon market and a new revenue source which is very doable, I hope we can move forward quickly to begin to get things in place,” said Stabenow. “We have a bipartisan framework—the Growing Climate Solutions Act I’m authoring with Sen. Mike Braun, my friend from Indiana.”
Stabenow’s final priority is preparing for the 2023 Farm Bill.
“I want to make sure the next one has Michigan on every page again,” she said. “We’re going to be spending a lot of time looking at the effectiveness of what we’ve done and how we can expand on that. Or if it hasn’t worked, then we shouldn’t do it.”
Stabenow added that Sec. Tom Vilsack has a vision to “get agriculture back on track” when he returns to his former post at USDA.
Sen. Stabenow made her remarks during the opening session of the Michigan Agri-Business Association’s Winter Conference.