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Over a century and a half ago, pioneers from every background streamed westward in search of a better life. It’s the American story: We dream big, and we follow those dreams wherever they take us. For many pioneers, that place was my home state of Nebraska.

Nebraska’s history was driven by the pioneer spirit, and that’s true of our present, too. The agriculture industry remains at the core of our state, and it continues to discover new frontiers. Our state is paving the way for the future of agriculture, and I’m committed to supporting that innovation as a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

Agriculture legislation that empowers Nebraska’s producers will benefit our farmers and ranchers, but it won’t stop there. Every state in our union is populated by agricultural producers who put food on the table for millions across our country and the world. That’s why it’s critical that the Senate deliver a robust farm bill this fall.

One way we can empower producers is by expanding their access to innovative tools. The farm bill will last through 2028, so it needs to propel the agriculture industry into the future. And the future of agriculture is precision agriculture. Precision agriculture technologies help producers use more precise amounts of pesticides, seed, water, and other resources. Farmers and ranchers waste fewer resources and less money and energy when they have access to precision technology. But it can be difficult for small and midsize producers to make initial investments in expensive precision technologies.

Our farm bill could alleviate that difficulty. My Precision Agriculture Loan Act would give smaller farmers and ranchers the opportunity to apply for Department of Agriculture loans to fund precision agriculture purchases. My Producing Responsible Energy and Conservation Incentives and Solutions for the Environment Act would expand existing USDA programs to cover precision agriculture technologies. Both of these bills would make strides toward expanding access to precision agriculture, which will benefit producers and consumers.

A second way to empower producers is by providing them with the broadband access they need to operate critical agriculture technology. I introduced the LAST ACRE Act this summer to give more of our farmers and ranchers across the country access to high-speed broadband. This bill would create the Last Acre Program at the USDA’s Office of Rural Development to expand network connectivity across farmland and ranchland. We are making good progress expanding broadband access to the “last mile” of our country, but we have a ways to go to reach networks across the “last acre.” This new program would contribute to closing that gap for producers, ensuring that they remain connected from the barn to the field.

To empower producers to innovate, we need to maintain a strong safety net. Farmers and ranchers have high-risk jobs. Their livelihoods are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Every single time I meet with a Nebraska producer, I hear more about the need for crop insurance, and I know this need isn’t limited to my home state. Farmers and ranchers across the country need assurance that they will be supported in difficult situations. Crop insurance should be coupled with quicker, more efficient disaster relief. This Congress, I introduced the Emergency Conservation Program Improvement Act, which would reform the Emergency Conservation Program to provide producers affected by disasters with advances on cost-sharing relief. That way, farmers and ranchers won’t have to wait months or years for help.

Our nation’s agricultural producers sustain this country and the world. That’s why it’s so critical that we deliver for them in the 2023 farm bill. Just as the first Nebraskans moved into new frontiers in search of the American dream, so our farmers and ranchers are moving into new frontiers of agriculture. That pioneer spirit will help them achieve their own dreams of safe, productive, and innovative agriculture work, but it will also propel our national American dream: continued prosperity, fed and fueled by farmers and ranchers across the country.

Deb Fischer is the senior senator from Nebraska. She was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012 and again in 2018. Senator Fischer serves on the following six Senate committees: Armed Services, Appropriations, Commerce, Agriculture, Rules, and Ethics. On Armed Services, she is the top Republican on the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. This subcommittee directly oversees two unified combatant commands: U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Space Command.

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