Farm Bill Reality Check

It’s farm bill mark-up day in the House Agriculture Committee, but Congressional leaders are less than hopeful the effort will get a bill across the finish line this year and before a new fall deadline.

House Ag Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson will likely have the votes of his GOP members to get his bill out of committee. But a mostly party-line vote won’t guarantee floor action, despite backing from key farm groups like the American Farm Bureau.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer isn’t committing to Senate action, either. He says, “The way to get a farm bill done is bipartisan, and we hope that can happen…the House bill is not yet bipartisan. It’s going to be very hard to get the farm bill done unless we have bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.”

House Ag Democrats have mounted an exhaustive effort to stop Thompson’s bill, funded through what many say are SNAP and CCC savings plus the repurposing of Biden Climate funds. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says it’s ‘funny money’–or worse.

Vilsack says, “You can’t finance it on counterfeit money. And that’s essentially what we’re doing here. It is designed not to create a route to passage, but I think it’s designed to create, unfortunately, a route to impasse.”

The Congressional Budget Office says $8 billion in CCC savings and $27 billion from SNAP won’t pay for tens of billions to boost farm programs.

Vilsack urges going outside the farm bill as Senate Chair Stabenow’s proposal does. The bottom line, positions have hardened since last year, and a one-year extension is now eight months old. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst says, “We have very little to give on this. The Democrats have all the room to move.”

And without a breakthrough, Ernst fears the worst, saying “It’s already political, right now, with the farm bill. It’s never been political before.” Question “So, this will be an election issue?” Ernst “This will be an election issue, yes, absolutely.”

Story courtesy of Matt Kaye/Berns Bureau and NAFB News Service