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Floundering farm bill progress faces political challenges

Floundering farm bill progress faces political challenges

By Andi Anderson

The progress towards finalizing a new farm bill has seen some movement, but political challenges remain. Brooke Appleton, vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association, highlighted recent developments.

“After a long impasse, there has finally been some movement to reauthorize the farm bill. The House Committee on Agriculture recently passed the Farm, Food, and National Security Act by a vote of 33-21,” said Appleton.

“But now, thanks to the hard work of House Agriculture Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson (R-Penn.), as well as committee members from both parties, we have moved into a different stage in the legislative process, though there is still much work to be done.”

Appleton expressed satisfaction with several amendments, including one from Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio) on sustainable aviation fuel. There are hopes that Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) will soon outline the Senate Republican farm bill framework for negotiations with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich).

Brandon Kern from the Ohio Soybean Association voiced concerns about the farm bill’s progress. “We have a national election going on and there’s this whole process of funding the government which has to happen right before October.

We’ve got a long road ahead with the politics and back and forth. I don’t think there’s going to be an opportunity to pass something until we get to a lame duck session in November,” Kern said. “The House has passed a pretty good bill. It puts more farm in the farm bill.

It allows for new base acre allocation and improvements in Title I commodity programs, reference price increases, and ARC and PLC program improvements. This is the improvement we’re looking for and we don’t want to lose that momentum.”

Kern pointed out significant political differences in the farm bill. “There are remaining issues between the two sides on the Nutrition Title and the reduction in SNAP benefits with increased farm spending.

There are critics on both sides. I don’t know that this political equation changes until after the election. The problem is that the window is very small, and if this Congress expires, we have to start all over again,” Kern said. “We need to continue the message that we need a farm bill now.”

Luke Crumley from Ohio Corn & Wheat shares this skepticism. “While there have been hearings and proposals, the reality is we’re not substantially closer to a farm bill. They have had a hearing on Chairman Thompson’s proposed language on the House side, and that’s great.

But on the Senate side, all we’ve seen is the legislative framework. We’re transitioning to the general election time frame, and things on Capitol Hill grind to a halt,” Crumley said.

“I’m nervous about the farm bill and how little progress has been made. Ranking member Boozman on the Senate side finally mentioned the dreaded word: extension. That’s not the answer American farmers deserve. We need a farm bill now, and political gamesmanship is putting that in jeopardy.”

An extension of the current farm bill would fall short of addressing the rapidly changing markets and production factors. “Legislative measures like an extension keep current programs as they are, but these fall short in many ways. Increased input costs and regulation require new markets and opportunities, which the current farm bill doesn’t address,” Crumley said.

“Kicking the can down the road is not good enough. The right answer is to work across the aisle and get the job done — it’s just not happening yet.”

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Categories: Ohio, Government & Policy

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