What the Election May Mean for the Next Farm Bill

Several elections are still playing out in states across America, and many of the results could significantly impact agricultural policy over the next two years.

Michael Torrey is the founder and principal of the Torrey Advisory Group who spoke during an Agri-Pulse webinar on the election results. He says, regardless of who controls Congress, the tight margins in the House and Senate may mean it’ll be hard to see a lot of changes in the upcoming farm bill.

Torrey said; “One of the things to pay attention to, as least as far as the House of Representatives goes, is, are they going to try to pass a farm bill with Republican-only votes, which they’ve done during the last couple of farm bills, or are they going to try to reach across the aisle and pass a farm bill? And I would tend to believe that their starting point is going to try to be a pass Republican-only farm bill. What kind of farm bill are the Republicans going to need to get out of the House, and that would kind of stand in contrast to will it be kind of the same or will it be different? And if that is the path they choose, then we can see a bill coming out of the House that could be significantly different by just trying to get the votes as a way to get to conference.”

He also expects Senate leadership to work well together to craft a bill they can get to a conference committee. One of the biggest sticking points is likely to be funding for the farm bill programs, especially if Republicans get control of the House.

Torrey; “Coming into this farm bill, the big issue was on funding, you know, and I think we’ve heard a lot of saber rattling about going after some of the hunger programs because of the significant funding increases in the past years. But I think with a margin this small for House Republicans, it’s gonna be difficult to get much reform if I had to guess.”

Former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp says there won’t be a new farm bill without a compromise on nutrition.

Heitkamp; “Whether it’s SNAP, whether it’s school nutrition, there’s going to be a big push for free hot lunch, and so there’s a lot of moving parts here and a lot of opportunity, including a lot of opportunity to find out how climate-smart agriculture can actually provide economic benefits to farmers.”

She says there will also have to be some compromises on climate policy to get a new farm bill in place.

According to Heitkamp; “Clearly, a big division on what we need to do on climate. So does that mean we can’t get a farm bill that I think achieves some compromise? You see the Farm Bureau stepping up with great ideas, and so, my advice always to groups, whether it’s corn growers, where I recently spoke at the Corn Congress, is to try and put your ideology and your partisanship aside and think about where compromise can provide an opportunity for you to get the systems that you need.”

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