Congressional Farmers Discuss High Food Prices

The Lempert Report
February 22, 2023

Politico, who I have great admiration for, interviewed four members of congress, who were working farmers, and they asked them certain questions. So the first question that they asked is, "what's driving up costs for your farm?" So obviously Senator John Tester, probably the only working farmer in the Senate. John Rose from Tennessee, he was the former Tennessee Ag Commissioner. He has beef cows on his farm. Then we've got Jim Costa from California, an almond Farmer, who represents Fresno, a critical agriculture district in California's Central Valley. And Doug La Malfa, a rice farmer in Northern California. So what's interesting is what most of them said was the price of fuel. The price of fuel and the availability of parts and cost for tractors. 

Phil: They talked about that. They talked about the cost of fertilizer in it. I love the fact that they're talking right to farmers. But, you know, Costa added one thing that I found really interesting, that we've got a problem in this country, he said we've not been able to address successfully, and that's the amount of food waste, whether it's in our schools or other products. One of the things I wanna look at in this Farm Bill reauthorization, is how we can do a better job with the impact of food waste. Something that we talk a lot about to consumers that it, you know, they're saying, "oh, the price of food is through the roof". Well, look at your cupboard, look at your habits, because 40% of all of our foods is wasted in this country. And a lot of that has to do with how we deal at home. So it's a problem. But now, John Tester just put in another bill in the Senate that relates to farming. What's that about? 

Sally: So, this bill is more about our farmland and who is buying our farmland and what what he's interested in doing is, not allowing our US adversaries, that would be China, Iran, North Korea, and, and Russia would not allow them to buy up our farmland. Now this is controversial because critics of it say, well, basically if they're offering a bigger price, then people should have the right to sell their land for that price if they want. Snd then John Tester's response to that he still wants you to have the right to sell your personal property, however you want, just not to these four countries because they actually propose a national security threat. 

Phil: And to that, you know, the Air Force recently said that a proposed Chinese grain facility was close to its base near Grand Forks, North Dakota. And that presented a national security concern. I happen to like Tester a lot. He's gonna be running for reelection next year. I hope, you know, he gets reelected. I think think from an ag standpoint, he gets it. He understands it. He's not about any BS. I really like him a lot. And to be honest with you, I'd never really thought, I know that China, for example, you know, bought up Rockefeller Plaza in New York City and they've bought a lot of real estate, office buildings and so on, both in New York and in other cities. I never really thought about the farmland until I read about this bill. And I think he's on to something. 

Phil: And frankly, maybe it's controversial and I'd love to know what our viewers think, but I think he's dead on. I mean, it's not only buying up the farmland and whether it's a national security risk, but even just growing our foods. Let's take care of the US farmers first. And as it is, we import a lot of food from China. We import all of our manure for our cows and chickens and so on from Russia. Maybe it's time that we really looked at who's running agriculture here and step up. And good for Tester and you have my vote, not that I can vote in the Senate, but if I could, he would have my vote.