The U.S. House Ag Committee's farmer-friendly farm bill faces hurdles to become reality

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The draft 2023 Farm Bill passed by the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee last week is facing an uphill battle to gain approval from enough Democrat lawmakers ahead of a looming September 30th deadline on the extension of the 2018 Farm Bill.

The House committee bill would increase support for farm commodity programs, but Democrats say they don’t support cuts in the bill to nutrition and climate programs.

In this RealAg Radio discussion, Jim Wiesemeyer, DC Policy Analyst with Pro Farmer, and RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney explore the critical action items required to push the 2023 Farm Bill forward toward completion. They discuss the negotiations between Democrats and Republicans and the pivotal role of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), emphasizing the urgent steps needed to navigate legislative hurdles and secure bipartisan support.

Commodity Credit Corporation at the forefront

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been vocal in his support for the CCC, advocating for its utilization in the new farm bill. This has added another layer of complexity to the negotiations, as lawmakers from both sides strive to find common ground.

Navigating deadlines and extensions

In terms of the possibility of a second extension for the 2018 Farm Bill and the likelihood of completing the 2023 Farm Bill before the end of 2024, Wiesemeyer is candid in his assessment, suggesting the chances of finalizing the bill by the Sept. 30th deadline are slim. He mentions that Congress’s focus is shifting towards fiscal year 2025 spending bills, making it more likely that an extension of the 2018 Farm Bill will be considered. He says a farm bill could potentially be taken up during the lame duck session after November 5th.

Action items and legislative hurdles

The path to passing the new farm bill involves several key steps:

  • Approval from House Speaker Mike Johnson: To bring the bill to the House floor, gaining Johnson’s approval is crucial.
  • Democrat support: Modifying the bill language to secure additional Democrat support will likely be necessary before a House floor vote.
  • Senate bill text release: The release of the Senate bill’s text will be essential to show funding allocations and gain broader support.
  • Compromise on CCC authority: Reaching an agreement on limiting the agriculture secretary’s authority over the CCC is a significant point of contention.
  • Consideration of extensions: Lawmakers might need to consider passing a farm bill extension or addressing it during the lame duck session.

Differences Between House and Senate Bills

Wiesemeyer elaborates on the potential differences between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill, particularly concerning the food and nutrition title, and conservation funding. He notes that outgoing Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow might not actually release the full text of a Senate version of the bill, which would be expected to allocate billions more dollars to the food and nutrition title. Stabenow has already released an outline, but she will likely have to provide more financial details if the House committee bill goes to a vote on the House floor, notes Wiesemeyer.

Watch/listen to Jim Wiesemeyer and Shaun Haney discuss the latest developments in farm bill negotiations in the video below. 

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