Another Stab at a Farm Bill


Congressional lawmakers are taking another stab at trying to put together and pass the 2024 Farm Bill after running into difficulties last year. 

Both Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) and House Agriculture Committee Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Penn) unveiled their Farm Bill proposals last week.

Chairman Thompson announced his committee will get right to work, with a mark up already scheduled for May 23.  Sen. Stabenow, however, told  reporters that she wants to negotiate with her ranking Republican, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark), and Rep. Thompson before scheduling a markup, according to The Hagstrom Report.

Sen. Stabenow’s proposal, the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, incorporates more than 100 bipartisan bills and puts the 2024 Farm Bill back on track to being signed into law by the end of the year, she said.

“This is a serious proposal that reflects bipartisan priorities to keep farmers farming, families fed, and rural communities strong.

"The foundation of every successful Farm Bill is built on holding together the broad, bipartisan coalition of farmers, rural communities, nutrition and hunger advocates, researchers, conservationists and the climate community.”

She expressed hope that Republicans will come to the negotiating table so that the legislation can be completed before the end of the year. Differences between Democrats and Republicans over spending levels derailed the Farm Bill last year.

Summary of Senate Bill

Following is a summary of the trade title of Sen. Stabenow’s bill:

Trade Promotion and International Food Aid
The bill keeps farmers farming by continuing USDA export promotion programs that put American grown food on tables around the world. It keeps families fed by providing new flexibilities for international food aid programs while it keeps farmers farming by maintaining support for American grown commodities to address a global crisis of hunger that is driven by violence, armed conflict, rising food prices and the climate crisis.

Trade Promotion: The bill continues the historic progress made in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill by maintaining permanent, mandatory funding of $2.5 billion over 10 years for USDA trade promotion programs like the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program.

The bill also promotes cold storage and other infrastructure in developing markets to ensure that high-value, American grown products will stay fresh.

In October, Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman secured a $1.2 billion investment outside of the Farm Bill that will effectively double USDA funding to develop new markets for American agriculture over the next 5 years.

The bill protects American farmers’ ability to use common names for commodities and food products, like parmesan and bologna, for marketing products sold around the world.

The bill directs USDA to address barriers to American specialty crop exports and establishes a new working group to help American fruit and vegetable farmers compete with rising imports.

Addressing a Global Crisis of Hunger: The bill improves international food aid programs by providing new flexibilities while maintaining the current level of US grown food shipped around the world to feed hungry people.

As many as 783 million people around the world experience chronic hunger, and 1 in 4 children under age 5 is severely malnourished. American farmers play a key role in feeding the world.

This bill continues to invest in our farmers and support all of the tools available to address the growing rates of global hunger.

The bill modernizes the Food for Peace program by requiring that a minimum percentage of Food for Peace funds be spent on commodities and transportation costs. The bill also makes targeted changes to streamline non-emergency development program operations to support projects that build resiliency to help communities withstand shocks.

It improves program operations for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program to help kids around the world have access to school meals. The bill also will help countries establish the infrastructure needed to build long-term school feeding programs.

Differences in House

House Agriculture Chairman Thompson said his bill is the outcome of “an extensive and
transparent process” that includes input from committee members of both political parties.

But committee ranking Democrat David Scott (Ga) issued a statement accusing panel Republicans of rejecting a bipartisan farm bill compromise. “Agriculture Committee Democrats presented a farm bill counterproposal to our Republican colleagues as part of an ongoing, years-long bipartisan process that could invest tens of billions of dollars in the farm bill safety net without cuts to SNAP benefits,” he said.

“Unfortunately, Republicans rejected this bipartisan approach in favor of a partisan bill with an untenable funding scheme. By insisting on poison pill policies, Republicans have turned what could have been a genuinely bipartisan bill into a messaging exercise to appease their right flank that has no chance of becoming law.”

While Republicans and Democrats from farm states have been able to work together in the past, the fact that there are fewer Democrats representing ag areas will be the “biggest obstacle,” former Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who chaired or was the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee from 2005-21 told Farm Progress during the efforts to pass the 2023 Farm Bill.  Collegiality has not improved.

Following is a summary of the trade title in Chairman Thompson’s bill:

Title III: Trade.
Agriculture is the backbone to most of the world’s economies, and robust promotion programs not only create market access, but protect our agricultural interests and act as a catalyst for innovation and economic growth.

By expanding the reach and impact of the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, the 2024 farm bill will mitigate global food insecurity while providing US producers new markets, improving local economies and lessening the damage of this Administration's ineffective trade agenda.

• Substantially increases funding for MAP/FMD.
• Prioritizes US commodities rather than unlimited market-based assistance.
• Balances the authorities of USAID with those of USDA.
• Lessens the bureaucracy associated with programs meant to respond to immediate crises.
• Addresses trade barriers and infrastructure deficiencies.
• Fosters education partnerships to ensure developing countries can benefit from our nation’s advanced research and developing technologies.


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