Competing interests and inflation will pose big challenges in writing the 2023 Farm Bill, according to experts and a top lawmaker at a recent Farm Foundation forum. The challenge is and always will be money, and never more so than for the next year’s farm bill. That’s according to incoming House Ag Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson, who said this at a Farm Foundation forum.
“From rising input costs and diesel shortages to fractured supply chains and historic inflationary pressures, we must take action to mitigate the significant headwinds currently hampering the production of an abundant and affordable food supply. Nearly 80 percent of the federal funding to producers since 2018 has come from outside 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. That’s why we need to enhance the farm safety net provisions in the farm bill.”
And therein lies the challenge. Former USDA Deputy Secretary and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives’ head Chuck Connor said; “There’s going to be a real attempt to increase conservation, to increase some of the support levels for some of the commodity programs because those levels are so low compared to current market prices and compared to the current cost of production. This creates an enormous divide. Can you get any votes in the House and Senate Democratic caucus and touch the nutrition programs? I think that’s an open question.”
But one, Connor says must be answered. Connor; “You can’t do a farm bill with just rural voters in the House of Representatives. And certainly, that’s true in the Senate. It’s got to be not only bipartisan, but you’ve got to have both urban and rural interests come together in order to have a reasonable bill.”
But Connor expects huge pressure from the new GOP majority to cut out-of-control spending and from Democrats to have the most climate-friendly farm bill ever. Just a “little” optimistic, Connor places great faith in the current team of seasoned Ag leaders Thompson, David Scott, Debbie Stabenow, and John Boozman to deliver a 2023 farm bill.