Farm Foundation Forum discusses upcoming 2023 Farm Bill
On Dec. 6, The December Farm Foundation Forum, “What to Expect from the 2023 Farm Bill,” provided further insights into the next farm bill.
Panelists included U.S. Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA), National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner, Gardner Agriculture Policy Program Director and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Associate Professor Jonathan Coppess and Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry Former Staff Director Christopher Adamo.
“As the 118th Congress nears, we have three options for the upcoming farm bill – let it expire, pass an extension or craft a bill which works for farmers, ranchers, producers and foresters nationwide,” said Thompson during the forum. “Of course, this is predicated on bipartisanship and the will of the House and Senate.”
He added, “I’m dedicated to working with my colleagues, agriculture advocates and farm families to get the job done.”
Thompson noted many producers across the U.S. are facing challenges, from rising input costs and diesel shortages to fracture supply chains and historic inflationary pressures.
“We must take action to mitigate the significant headwinds currently hampering production of an abundant affordable food supply,” he said.
On June 15, 2022, Thompson introduced House of Representatives bill 8069 – Reducing farm input costs and barriers to domestic production act.
“The bill would address escalating input costs and provide certainty to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and other entities across our food and ag supply chains,” said Thompson. “American agriculture, if given the right tools and regulatory confidence can expand this vital role in alleviating global food instability and reducing costs for consumers.”
Additionally, he noted the need for a reliable farm safety net is paramount. Nearly 80 percent of the federal funding to producers since 2018 has come from outside of the farm bill baseline, largely due to inefficient, costly disaster relief.
“These ad hoc programs have provided necessary assistance, but farmers can’t plan for them and lenders can’t depend on them,” he said. “We to enhance the farm safety net provisions in the farm bill to provide more long-term certainty and reduce the need for ad hoc assistance.”
Another issue impacting producers is access to a legal reliable year-round workforce.
“No sector has been harmed more by our broken immigration system than agriculture,” he said.
Though far from perfect, Thompson shared he voted in support of the Farm Workforce Moderation Act, a bill aiming to address this very issue.
“I remain hopeful this bill will be refined through the legislative process to better support America’s farmers and ranchers,” he concluded.
Farm bill priorities
“Farm bills are such an important piece of legislation in terms of the future direction of farm and food policy in this country, and this one will be no different,” said Conner.
He added, “A farm bill is not just about farm programs or nutrition programs, it’s much more extensive and covers every function performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”
The farm bill includes the following titles: Title I – Commodities; Title II – Conservation; Title III – Trade; Title IV – Nutrition; Title V – Credit; Title VI – Rural Development; Title VII – Research, Extension and Related Matters; Title VIII – Forestry; Title IX – Energy; Title X – Horticulture; Title XI – Crop Insurance and Title XII – Miscellaneous.
“We tend to focus on Title I and IV, Commodities and Nutrition, but there’s a lot more going on in this farm bill that is very important to the future of American agriculture and will play a key role in how easily and quickly we can get this next farm bill done,” he said.
The panelists mentioned many are concerned with a divided political environment with a Republican House, Democratic Senate and Democratic White House.
However, Conner noted, Rep. David Scott (D-GA), current chairman and soon ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee; Rep. Glenn Thompson, incoming chairman of the House Agriculture Committee; Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, will be influential in working on the farm bill to represent agriculture.
Conner noted in the 2018 Farm Bill, nutrition spending accounted for 76 percent of the farm bill’s budget, with nine percent going to crop insurance, seven percent going to commodities and conservation and one percent going to an “other” category.
The 2023 Farm Bill projection spending increases nutrition to 84 percent, six percent to crop insurance, five percent to commodities, four percent to conservation and one percent to other.
“I can see this being a big source of conflict, and it’s not a newsflash for those of us who work on farm and food policy, but there’s going to be a real attempt to increase conservation and some of the support levels for commodity programs because those levels are so low compared to current market prices and current cost of production,” Conner mentioned.
A huge divide in the farm bill will come when discussing spending for these other categories in retrospect to nutrition, he noted.
of 2023 Farm Bill
Conner said there are four key areas driving the debate on the next farm bill. They include climate/regenerative agriculture, urban versus rural, cost and nutrition.
“I feel optimistic because we’re using the most seasoned legislators than we have in a very long time to get this done,” said Conner. “I have tremendous confidence. There’s no one better than Boozman and Stabenow to put together coalitions to pass tough legislation.”
Conner noted conservation will be a large area of focus in the next farm bill, but questions arise regarding how one goes about it.
“Will it be through incentives, technical assistance, denying subsidies and payments or through mandate?” he asked. “I believe we have solved a lot of problems in American agriculture using incentives and cost share, and this can be done in the climate space and food and agriculture as well.”
In the September 2022 Farm Foundation Issue report, titled “Could Climate Change Produce a Revolutionary 2023 Farm Bill?” Coppess and Adamo provide an initial and brief look at the potential for climate change to drive revolutionary changes in the farm bill.
The report focuses on two initial concepts which could be built around farm support and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but also notes multiple paths towards revolutionary status in 2023.
“While it is not easy to pinpoint which direction the next farm bill will take, we hope this issue report will spark thoughtful discussion and evaluation of some of the factors which may come into play to shape the 2023 Farm Bill into either an evolutionary or revolutionary farm bill,” said Farm Foundation President and CEO Shari Rogge-Fidler in a Morning AgClips article dated Oct. 4, 2022.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.