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GA ag commissioner’s top priority right nowGA ag commissioner’s top priority right now

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tyler Harper: Crucial to find ways to increase reference pricing in the farm bill and maintain a viable crop insurance program.

Ron Smith

July 17, 2023

2 Min Read
Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tyler Harper, second from right, poses with (left to right)Phillip Edwards, UGA Extension, Don Koehler, Georgia Peanut Commission, and Ron Smith, Farm Progress (retired). Phillip Crosby

Ensuring that the next farm bill continues to work not only for consumers but also for farmers is a key priority for Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tyler Harper.

Harper, in an interview with Farm Press during the American Peanut Research and Education Society annual meeting, July 12, said in recent meetings with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, “we emphasize the importance of, number one, getting a farm bill across the finish line, but also ensuring that farmers and producers can continue to be successful.”

Harper said finding ways to increase reference pricing and maintaining a crop insurance program that continues to be viable and successful are crucial. “Even adding new provisions for things like specialty crops, which are important to the Southeastern U.S., should be on the table. We need to find ways to ensure that those farmers have the same protection as other commodities.”

He said other important issues will be to protect programs like rural development and the EQIP conservation program.

“We have so much in the farm bill we can talk about but  investing in research today — what we're discussing here at this conference today — and ensuring that our land grant universities have the resources they need to continue to allow agriculture to innovate and be successful and to continue to be viable for generations to come have to be priorities.”

Related:APRES: 'Scans Horizon' for peanut solutions


The Commissioner said the biggest challenge with farm bill debates is managing regional differences. “Different regions of the country have different opinions on what needs to be in the farm bill. I think you're going to see a lot of conversation around the SNAP program and the nutrition title. There will be a lot of back and forth on what exactly should be included in that particular provision of the farm bill.

“I think there has been some conversation on crop insurance. I don't know where that may end up and where that plane may land, but there definitely will be conversation around what it looks like.

“We hear some back and forth on reference pricing, too. So, we don't know exactly where that plane's landing either, but it's important that we keep those issues that are important to Georgia farmers and to American farmers at the forefront. And that's what we're working to do.

“It is vitally important to ensure that we get what's needed in farm legislation to allow our number one industry to continue to be successful. At the end of the day, agriculture is the backbone of our economy. It's national security. What we're doing is important.”

Related:10 stories of weather woes and wins in ag

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Farm Bill

About the Author(s)

Ron Smith

Editor, Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 30 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Denton, Texas. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and two grandsons, Aaron and Hunter.

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