INDIANAPOLIS – As Congress prepares to ramp up its work on the next farm bill, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Indiana) met with farmers from across the Hoosier State to get their input as they continue to deal with challenges two and a half years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The farm bill is passed every five years and shapes the nation’s agriculture policy.

“If you were to order a tractor today, new… You’re talking a year, year and a half before you’ll receive it,” said Scott Smith, a Tipton County farmer who produces corn, soybeans and tomatoes.

Right now, farmers are facing higher costs, labor shortages and supply chain disruptions, Smith said.

“We’ve already been warned that get your supplies in order because there could be a shortage,” Smith said. “There’s always the unknown supply that you need. The resource you need and you need it today.”

Smith joined other farmers and advocates for Friday’s discussion with Braun at the Indiana State Fair.

“We’ve now got more record-high input costs with the threat that we may not even be able to get some of the fertilizers that come from, of course, Ukraine, Russia,” Sen. Braun said.

Braun serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which will work on the next farm bill. He wants to make sure it provides a “cushion” for farmers as they deal with current and upcoming challenges, he said.

Braun said he also wants to see the federal government do more to help improve the supply chain, though he acknowledges that likely won’t be a simple solution.

“Maybe bring more of that back to the U.S. or find other sources of supply that may not be so far away or at least in areas of such turmoil,” Braun said.

Kendell Culp, vice president of the Indiana Farm Bureau, said he also hopes to see a “strong safety net” for farmers, including more coverage under crop insurance.

“So if there is a disaster, farmers can be kept somewhat whole so we can continue and be able to afford to plant a crop next year,” Culp said. “It’s really a food security issue is what it is.”

The nation’s current farm legislation expires in September 2023.