Congressman Van Orden Reflects On First Year

Passing the Farm Bill and encouraging trade deals top the to-do list in 2024 for Congressman Derrick Van Orden. He serves Wisconsin’s third district and represents America’s Dairyland on the House Agriculture Committee.

Before talking about what’s coming down the pipeline, Van Orden reflects in his first year in Congress. He sums it up with a number of wins for Wisconsin farmers. This includes passing more dollars for the Dairy Business Innovation Act and keeping milk options in schools.

Congress extended the 2023 Farm Bill deadline to September 2024. Van Orden says the nutrition programs, such as SNAP, will continue through that new deadline. He sits on the SNAP Subcommittee.

“I understand the validity of these SNAP programs,” he says. “I was raised in poverty… and we had to depend on some of these programs.”

Nutrition programs make up a majority of the Farm Bill. Because the price tag is so high for items like SNAP, Van Orden says he wants to eliminate fraud in the system.

“Every single taxpayer dollar allocated to be sent to feed a hungry child, that’s where I want to the dollar going, not into somebody’s pocket,” he says.

There are a couple of deadlines coming up before some of that Farm Bill work can begin in earnest — Jan. 19 and Feb. 2. Both correlate with a government shutdown.

“Most of the Farm Bill programs will continue even during a government shutdown,” Van Orden says, although he pledges to avoid a shutdown.

Trade is also a priority for the Congressman.

“One of the series of things that I’ve been very disappointed with in the Biden administration is that it’s nearly impossible to get them to respond to these trade issues,” Van Orden says. “We want to be able to export our agriculture products around the world, but they’re not enforcing USMCA, and they’re not trying to help open these new markets. Our corn growers are getting their lunch eaten by Brazil right now.”

Specifically, he’s pushing the Biden administration to keep Canada in check under the USMCA. Dairy processors and cooperatives across the U.S. are calling foul after a USMCA dispute settlement. The panel found that Canada’s dairy tariff-rate quota allocation measures do not breach any of the USMCA commitments cited by U.S. trade officials. The industry argues the panel ruling allows Canada to limit export opportunities for American dairy producers.

“The executive branch is the only branch of government that has enforcement authority,” Van Orden says. “So I just want them to do their job to let our farmers compete on a level playing field.”