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Farm Bill Draft Expected by Memorial Day

E&E News’ Marc Heller reported earlier this week that “House Agriculture Chair Glenn Thompson said Tuesday he’ll release a farm bill draft within a month and have it ready for the panel’s consideration before Memorial Day.”

“By setting a target date before the May 27 holiday, Thompson (R-Pa.) set the stage for the five-year bill’s first significant move forward,” Heller reported. “He told agriculture reporters he’s incorporated ideas from committee Democrats and believes the measure will be able to attract votes from the other side of the aisle.”

‘Without a doubt, we will mark up a farm bill before Memorial Day,’ Thompson told members of the North American Agricultural Journalists,” Heller reported. “The 2018 farm bill expired last Sept. 30, and Congress has extended it for one year.”

What’s Expected in Thompson’s Farm Bill

Progressive Farmer’s Chris Clayton reported on Tuesday that “Thompson said his goal is to create a ‘robust farm safety net’ that fully funds other areas of the farm bill. Thompson said there would be no cuts from current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries. Also, no funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) or SNAP dollars will go to boost the farm safety net, Thompson said.”

Tri-State Livestock News reported Thursday that “Thompson described the bill he is developing as ‘tripartisan’ – the result of input from Republicans, Democrats and ‘the families of American agriculture’ whom he has met on his many roundtables and listening sessions held around the country. He said the draft he has shared with Democrats would bring the conservation programs in the Inflation Reduction Act into the farm bill and use ‘most if not all’ of the money in that program for conservation.”

Agri-Pulse’s Noah Wicks reported Wednesday that “Thompson also indicated he would be including in the farm bill a scaled-back alternative to the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act. The EATS Act — which previously garnered support from pork-state lawmakers, but opposition from many Capitol Hill Democrats and states’ rights advocates — would bar states from regulating agricultural products produced or manufactured in other states.”

Clayton reported that “a key budget move for Thompson’s farm bill will be to adjust or reverse engineer changes USDA made to the Thrifty Food Plan. USDA, early in the Biden administration, updated the cost estimate for determining a healthy diet for SNAP recipients. In the past, those USDA updates were always ‘budget neutral,’ but the Biden administration updates increased the future projected costs of SNAP by nearly $30 billion a year.

“By forcing USDA to go back to a budget-neutral calculation, Thompson’s farm bill plan suddenly has a lot of money to move around,” Clayton reported. “…Some of those funds from recalibrating the Thrifty Food Plan would go back into nutrition programs and expand access to food programs for some people, Thompson said. But it also opens the potential to beef up other areas — if Democrats will go along.”

Wicks reported that Thompson is also looking at “utilizing Commodity Credit Corporation funding to support a ‘robust farm safety net.'”

Senate Waiting for House Version of Farm Bill

Clayton reported that “Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the Senate hasn’t set an exact timeline, but the leaders do have ‘substantial bipartisan agreement’ on more than half of the provisions of a farm bill. ‘We’re still working on the rest of them,’ she said.”

“Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said he hopes to release a ‘framework’ for a farm bill proposal soon, but the Senate Agriculture Committee would continue to hold for the House to pass a bill before moving ahead on its own bill,” Clayton wrote.

House Bill Needs Democratic Support

Politico’s Meredith Lee Hill reported at the beginning of the week that “to be clear, unless Republicans can secure significant Democratic support, a farm bill isn’t going to pass on the House floor this year. The outlook for Congress approving a new reauthorization is still bleak and the lame duck session may be the only remaining chance.”

“A fair number of House Democrats would rather punt the farm bill to next year, with the hope that they’ll win control of the lower chamber this fall,” Lee Hill reported. “They’re also extremely wary of a farm bill getting to the floor under regular order, for fear that hardline Republicans will take over the legislation like what happened with the annual defense bill. But the planned Ag Committee markup is very likely the only vote about a dozen vulnerable House Democrats and several others in key rural districts will take on the farm bill before their tough races this November.”

Ryan Hanrahan is the Farm Policy News editor and social media director for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked in local news, primarily as an agriculture journalist in the American West. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (B.S. Science & Agricultural Journalism). He can be reached at

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