As part of a three-day farm tour, Hudson took questions from Scotland County farmers on a range of issues Tuesday morning at Laurinburg’s Hagler Farms. Discussion centered around the upcoming farm bill and federal spending.
Recently appointed to the House Committee on Agriculture, Hudson’s stop at Hagler Farms also saw him offer a legislative update to local farmers.
“Agriculture is our most important industry here in Scotland County and North Carolina … and I am out here meeting with farmers because I want to hear from them,” said the former congressional staffer. The congressman said that he anticipates a new Farm Bill being passed before the current one expires eight months from now.
Kicked off on Monday, the tour of district farms featured nearly a dozen stops. The congressman said that he is using the road trip as an opportunity to learn the concerns of area farmers.
“I much more enjoy my time at home here in the district than I do my time in Washington to vote,” said Hudson, who has family ties to Scotland County.
During his hour-long stop, Hudson met with local Farm Bureau members and officers and fielded questions about the farm bill, the debt ceiling and foreign aid.
“It’s too early to tell (exactly what form the new bill will take), but we will probably start from that framework,” said Hudson, referencing the farm bill that was approved by the House Agriculture Committee last year. The committee’s bill was never brought to the floor for a vote.
Speaker of the House John Boehner said that he did not believe there was enough support in the House to make a debate of the bill worthwhile in 2012. There was disagreement with that assessment among agriculture committee members.
“The Speaker has made a commitment to (House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas) to make a five-year farm bill this year, we just have to get through all of the spending fights,” Hudson said.
Critics of the farm bill proposed last year have targeted farming subsidies as well as proposed dairy market control measures.
Hudson pointed out to the farmers gathered at Hagler Farms that about 80 percent of the farm bill proposed last year was related to nutrition and food stamp programs.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said that the farm bill would be a legislative priority for the senate this year. The senate passed a farm bill in June of 2012 before discussion stalled out in the House.
Linda Andrews, Federal Affairs Director for North Carolina Farm Bureau, shared words of praise for Hudson at the gathering.
“I’ve been in this role over two years, this is the second Congress I’ve been actively engaged in and I want you to know how lucky you are to have someone representing you such as Congressman Hudson,” Andrews said.
An advocacy organization for farmers, the North Carolina Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general farm organization.
Andrews continued her expression of approval by saying that the changeover from U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell’s office to Hudson’s has gone well.
“It’s been a wonderful transition into working with (Hudson’s) office, his staff has been great and know that he truly understands how important your industry is.”
Hudson returned the compliment by saying that “Farm Bureau does such a great job advocating for our industry and helping get you information.”
Asked by one attendee about the United States’ continued support of Egypt, including an upcoming shipment of military supplies to the nation which has been at times seen as anti-American, Hudson described the matter of foreign aid as “complicated.”
“We need Egypt to help us with Hezbollah and the Palestinian issue. And that’s the case in a lot of places, like Pakistan. If that government gets toppled or isn’t cooperative, we have a much bigger problem.
“It’s a tough call and I don’t have all the answers,” Hudson said.
At the conclusion of the visit, Hudson was invited to dine on oatmeal cakes and was presented a Farm Bureau hat by Scotland County Farm Bureau Insurance Agency Manager Ken Lewis.
Having also visited Richmond and Robeson counties on Tuesday, Hudson’s farm tour will conclude today with stops in Rowan, Davidson and Randolph counties.