MOULTRIE, Ga. -- U.S. Rep. Austin Scott is running as the incumbent for re-election to Georgia’s District 8 House of Representatives seat. If re-elected, he plans to continue his work in the Agricultural Services and Armed Services committees.
Though he already sits on both committees, there’s still work that must be done in the coming months and coming years, especially in the wake of COVID-19.
Scott said his work in the Armed Services Committee will be continuing to ensure national security and make sure soldiers continue to have the necessary resources — weapon systems, training and food.
Scott’s focus in agriculture is writing the next farm bill into permanent rather than temporary law.
The original farm bill became permanent law in the 1940s. Any change after that, “technically speaking,” was a temporary change, Scott said.
“We need to get away from temporary changes to permanent law that was written in the ‘40s,” he said, naming it as a goal.
Getting crop insurance will be one of the stops on this path, he said, as lawmakers work toward getting farmers better risk management tools. Between COVID-19 and the ever-present threat of inclement weather, it’s a must.
Scott said the government has seen the effects first-hand.
“If you look at the damage that’s been done to the commodity prices, whether it’s cotton or cows, it’s created a scenario under which it’s difficult for our farmers’ cash flow,” he said.
Providing solutions to mitigate those commodity prices will be a part of the plan too. After all, Scott knows a thing or two about mitigating.
A Tifton native, Scott made his way to the University of Georgia in 1987 to study risk management and insurance. He graduated in 1991, starting an insurance brokerage when he came back to Tifton.
Scott would run it for 20 years, meanwhile beginning his tenure in politics, in the state House of Representatives. He was elected to Congress in 2010, officially taking office in 2011, in the position he now holds.
His activity and interaction with the masses during the COVID-19 pandemic has shown him people have more appreciation toward how important the food supply chain is to the country.
Seed supply, chemical supply, etc. -- the things that it takes for us to grow the quantities needed to feed the country -- need back-up plans, he said.
“We need to make sure we give people in [those] supply chains more choices and more ability to mitigate their risks in the event of a downturn,” Scott said.
Taking the standpoint of meat packing, he said maybe slaughterhouses should be spread throughout the country rather than centralized.
A “sizable” amount of this industry resides in Moultrie, sure, but each step of the supply chain needs to have better communication from the farmer to the processor to the grocer.
“I think it becomes easier to do the things now that we wanted to do to help because there’s now more appreciation for the farmer from people in Washington who were elected out of metropolitan areas -- who have maybe never been on a farm,” Scott said.
Scott said he loves his country and the district he represents. He believes he’s on the two committees that will best serve the majority of people he represents.
Besides those focuses come bringing more health care insurance to rural America. To him, insurance companies that write more policies for metropolitan areas have “turned their backs” on rural areas.
The mission is to continue working to take away the antitrust exemption the health industry has and helping small town health care providers thrive.
“Our local pharmacists are having a hard time competing with the CVS’s and the others on more than just the pharmacy,” he said.
These bigger pharmacies own pharmacy benefit managers, the middleman in a prescription drug transaction. They siphon off millions of dollars from the healthcare system each year. Scott’s plan is to lessen that.
“We’re going to go up there (D.C.) and we’re going to continue to work,” Scott said. “When we have things like we did with Hurricane Michael, we’re going to go to bat for the people we represent and we’re not going to stop until the job gets done.”