U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas urged his colleagues to pass the 2018 Farm Bill during a speech on the U.S. Senate floor Tuesday.
"Our nation’s food and fiber capability with regards to production hang in the balance with what we do here on this legislation," said Roberts, the Republican chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.
The committee passed the Farm Bill with bipartisan support two weeks ago.
Roberts said the bill provides certainty and predictability to farmers and ranchers at a time when tariffs threaten to close off foreign markets.
He said Kansas farmers have already lost markets for wheat and corn crops.
"When you impose a tariff to try to get things down on trade deficits, you also run the risk — and we’ve already seen it happen — of retaliation, and retaliation comes back directly on our producers in agriculture," Roberts said.
The Republican-led U.S. House narrowly passed the bill last week by a vote of 213-211. Democrats unanimously opposed the measure, saying it would toss too many people off government food assistance. The House bill would toughen work requirements for food stamp recipients. Twenty Republicans also voted no.
Every five years, Congress passes legislation known as the Farm Bill that sets the policies and funding for national agriculture, nutrition, conservation and forestry programs.
The current Farm Bill expires Sept. 30.