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New Farm Bill Remains Unlikely as Congress Returns

Politico’s Garrett Downs reported Monday that “Congress is back to work this week, but a new five-year farm bill — set to determine the future of agriculture and nutrition policy — still seems like an afterthought.”

“Last week, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley suggested that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could make the farm bill a top priority ‘to do between now and the summer,’ but warned such a move is ‘not likely to happen,'” Downs reported. “On Friday, Schumer appeared to tip his hand by making no mention of the farm bill in a ‘dear colleague’ letter laying out the Senate’s top priorities for the weeks and months ahead.”

The lack of Farm Bill mention in the Senate comes as “Washington insiders now think we could get a first look at a new Farm Bill as early as next week” in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to reporting from AgWeb’s Jim Wiesemeyer and Tyne Morgan.

Farm Bill Titles with Mandatory Baseline for FY2025-2034. Courtesy of the CRS

The first look of the bill on the House side of things would be “just the first step in a long process of getting a new farm bill across the finish line,” Wiesemeyer and Morgan reported. “Even if its version is passed out of committee, (Texas A&M University’s Joe) Outlaw says the quickest a farm bill has ever been released and then signed by the President is 9 months, which means even if we see a first look at a new farm bill next week, it’s unlikely a final bill will be passed this year.”

Doubts of New Bill Growing Among Lawmakers and Experts

Farmdoc daily’s farm policy expert, Jonathan Coppess, wrote last week in his continuing analysis of U.S. farm policy that “the chances of Farm Bill reauthorization in 2024 grow more dim with each passing day and analysis begins to take on the tenor of postmortem.”

“Coppess compared basic input costs for crops in each state with payments for farm programs, including conservation programs,” FERN’s Ag Insider reported. “Proportionally, Southern states benefited the most. ‘There is little doubt that these disparities are fueling at least some of the demands that are causing the impasse’ in the farm bill debate, said Coppess, an associate professor at the University of Illinois.”

In addition, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst told Agri-Pulse’s Open Mic in late March that she doesn’t see “the groups coming together right now” to pass a Farm Bill in 2024 and that she doesn’t think it will be until January 2025 that the bill could see serious movement.

Grassley told KCHA News that “if something doesn’t happen in the next two weeks, I don’t think we’re going to have a new five year farm bill. So we’ll have another one year extension of 2018. So, farmers will have some protection, but not adequate protection.”

Bill Still Possible if Long-Standing Hurdles can be Navigated

E&E News’ Andres Picon, Kelsey Brugger and Marc Heller reported that “lawmakers have a window of opportunity to advance the overdue 2023 farm bill — if they can overcome a few hurdles that have stalled the legislation.”

“Issues stopping the bill so far include how to pay for any increases in support prices for farm commodities — Republicans suggesting using funds from the Inflation Reduction Act, which Democrats reject — and whether to pull other IRA money into conservation while dropping the climate bill’s requirement that it be used on climate-smart practices,” they reported.

“Policy groups tracking the farm bill say they’re looking for House Agriculture Chair Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) to possibly introduce and mark up a bill in committee in the next several weeks, even if he doesn’t have Democratic support,” Picon, Brugger and Heller reported. “He’s long said he intended to release and mark up a draft after appropriations were settled but has also said he wants a bipartisan farm bill.”

But, “a bill without Democratic support likely wouldn’t pass in the closely divided House, so putting one forward in committee is a questionable move, said Ferd Hoefner, a farm policy consultant who specializes in conservation programs,” they reported.

The current extension to the 2018 farm bill will expire on Sept. 30, Downs reported.

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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