Congressman Tom O'Halleran, right, hosted members of the House Agriculture Committee on a listening tour in Pinal County.

The House Agriculture Committee held the first in a series of listening sessions recently at Central Arizona College in Coolidge.

Three Members of Congress, hosted on their visit to Pinal County by Arizona Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), joined about 140 members of the public who attended in-person or streaming online. Topics discussed included nutrition, conservation, water and regional differences in farm bill needs.

Following the listening session, Members of Congress toured Knorr Farms’ cooling facility, south of Maricopa, and visited a drip-irrigated cotton field at Tempe Farm Company.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 19,000 farms in Arizona cover about 26.2 million acres. The Arizona Department of Agriculture reports that agriculture contributes $23.3 billion to the state’s economy and supports more than 138,000 full and part-time jobs, both directly and indirectly. Arizona is the third largest producing state for fresh market vegetables and fourth in acres of organic vegetables.

Members of the House Agriculture Committee issued the following statements after the event.

“The farm bill is a critically important piece of legislation that requires careful thought and consideration,” said Chairman David Scott. “As we prepare to craft this legislation next year, it is incumbent upon Members of the House Agriculture Committee to reflect on what changes and updates should be made. It is so important that we gather the perspectives not only of government officials, experts, and stakeholders in Washington, D.C., but also of our producers and consumers across the country.

“I want to thank my good friend, Congressman Tom O’Halleran, for hosting our first listening session in his wonderful state of Arizona,” he continued. “I would also like to thank House Agriculture Subcommittee Chair Cheri Bustos of Illinois for chairing the event and House Agriculture Subcommittee Ranking Member Austin Scott of Georgia for participating.”

“Today’s listening session was a great opportunity to hear directly from local farmers, ranchers, and ag producers about what they want to see out of our next farm bill. I thank the House Agriculture Committee and Congresswoman Bustos for joining me in Coolidge to see firsthand the challenges hardworking Arizonans face in producing and caring for the crops and livestock needed to feed and clothe our nation. Rural America is the backbone of our great country—we must ensure rural families and businesses are supported as we draft legislation,” said Congressman Tom O’Halleran.

“As we prepare for the next farm bill, it’s vital that we listen to family farmers from every corner of our country,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “Thank you to Congressman O’Halleran for the opportunity to learn more about Arizona agriculture and hear directly from local farmers about their priorities. I look forward to continuing this dialogue in the coming months to ensure that we preserve and improve programs vital to our ag community.”

“Gathering input from stakeholders is critical to writing a Farm Bill that meets the needs of American agriculture. With supply chain issues, rising input costs, and shortages in the global food supply, I look forward to working with farmers and ranchers to ensure they have the tools and policies they need to continue to produce food and fiber to feed and clothe the world,” said Congressman Austin Scott.