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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

All of Rural America is Waiting

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

On May 23, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee started discussing the new farm bill. The farm bill has always been contentious, and the way some members of Congress act today, it will surely be a battle to not only get the bill passed by the House, but also by the Senate. 

Remember, this is an election year and commonsense seems to go by the wayside during election years. But for those in agriculture, it is important legislation is passed. 

It is of importance to all Americans. Americans spend around 12 percent of their income on food, probably more in the last few years with high inflation, but it is still the lowest in the world.

The farm bill comes up for review every five years, and it usually takes a couple of years to pass or they can vote for a continuing resolution. It does take a lot of work by members of both agriculture committees to start discussing it a year ahead. 

Last summer, Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis (both R-WY) invited Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) to hold a hearing with ag leaders from across Wyoming and to tour a ranch southwest of Casper. 

The U.S. House Ag Committee started their meeting on May 23 and passed their $1.51 trillion farm bill markup out of committee, with a 33 to 21 vote early Friday morning with four Democrats joining the Republican members. It will now go to the floor of the U.S. House for a vote. 

As with this farm bill and other past years, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the main stumbling blocks. Most everyone knows it as the food stamp program, which is over 80 percent of present and past farm bills. 

It is a much-needed part of the farm bill, but with the amount of money involved, there needs to be some better management of who qualifies.

This year, the SNAP and climate-smart programs are both discussed along party lines. The Biden administration’s re-evaluation has led to a significant increase in SNAP costs, which Republicans argue was excessive at an increase of over $250 billion. Remember, it is an election year.

Those involved in agriculture were happy to hear of some movement by Congress and I hope it keeps going, but the argument of how we are going to pay for it will surely lengthen discussions.

Multiple farm groups from around the nation spoke out last Friday in support of the action of the U.S. House Ag Committee.

Mark Eisele, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and a rancher from Cheyenne, released a statement saying, “Cattle producers are thankful the House Agriculture Committee has advanced a farm bill which delivers on needs of rural America. This farm bill protects the cattle industry from animal disease, supports producers’ voluntary conservation efforts and safeguards our food supply, recognizing our food supply is national security.”

“On behalf of cattle farmers and ranchers across the country, thank you to Chairman Thompson and the House Agriculture Committee for passing this bill,” Eisele adds. “I hope the full House will take the next step and pass this bill soon.” 

All of rural America is waiting.

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