On March 30, the American Farm Bureau Federation and Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation presented U.S. Senator Roger Wicker with the AFBF Golden Plow Award, the highest honor the organization gives to sitting members of Congress. Since his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, AFBF has awarded Wicker with the Friend of Farm Bureau Award every session of Congress, a perfect score supporting Farm Bureau policy.
With this in mind, MFBF endorsed Wicker for the AFBF Golden Plow Award in 2021 in an effort to recognize his continued commitment to farmers, ranchers and rural Americans. Some of Wicker’s notable involvement and achievements include:
As the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Wicker has been one of the most vocal proponents of rural broadband connectivity. In the 115th Congress, Wicker led bipartisan legislation with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota to introduce the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 (S. 2343), which directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a task force to identify gaps in broadband connectivity for the nation’s cropland and ranchland. The measure also instructed the agency to develop ways to help encourage broadband adoption and precision agriculture in areas where it is currently unavailable.
This legislation was ultimately included in the 2018 Farm Bill and signed into law, creating the Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States. This Task Force is currently working to provide advice and recommendations to the FCC on how to assess and advance deployment of broadband Internet access service on unserved agriculture land to promote precision agriculture.
In addition, during the FCC Mobility Fund Phase II auction, Wicker led an effort to dispute the accuracy of the FCC’s mobile broadband connectivity maps, after the FCC deemed Mississippi and other rural states to be with 98% coverage, which is clearly inaccurate.
In the 116th Congress, Wicker, along with several other bipartisan Senate colleagues, authored, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act (S.1822). This legislation required the FCC to collect granular service availability data from wired, fixed wireless, and satellite broadband providers; set stronger parameters for service availability data collected from mobile broadband providers to ensure accuracy; and require the FCC to use the newly created maps when making new awards of broadband funding. President Trump signed this law into law on March 23, 2020, and Wicker is now working diligently with Senate leadership to make sure the intent of this legislation is funded adequately by Congress.
Wicker has been a staunch advocate for fair and free trade during his time in Congress. Following the 2016 Presidential Election, where trade became a central campaign issue, Wicker worked with MFBF to educate the public about the importance of agricultural trade to the Mississippi economy by assisting in the creation of a commercial for the 2018 Farm Families of Mississippi campaign. Additionally, Wicker worked with Senate leadership to support and advance the USMCA agreement.
As a key member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Wicker was a staunch supporter to “ditch the rule,” referring to the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule authored during the Obama Administration. He has also been an advocate in providing more discretion to the states, in terms of establishing the regulatory environment, especially as it pertains to endangered species and pesticides.
Wicker served as a key member of the group of senators who wrote the CARES Act during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was instrumental in the development of the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) concept and worked to see the successful implementation of the act.
In addition, Wicker has worked tirelessly direct federal resources to contract poultry growers, one of the few agricultural groups left out of the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Additionally, Wicker championed for additional assistance be given to the restaurant industry in the next major stimulus package.
Wicker led the counter attack on the Senate floor when other Congressmen attempted to overturn the U.S. farm-raised catfish inspection program transition from FDA to USDA with the Congressional Review Act procedure. He has also been at the forefront of advocating for the Yazoo Pump Project.
Justin Ferguson is the Federal Affairs Coordinator at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.