Democrats call for more farm bill funding

Seven-point principles memo emphasizes opposition to nutrition, conservation funding cuts.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

February 7, 2024

2 Min Read
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House Agriculture Committee Democrats say any farm bill deal must address seven key issues to earn their support. In a Feb. 7 memo, they laid out the principles which they say will determine how they vote.

Ranking Committee Member David Scott, D- Ga. acknowledge that the farm bill must be bipartisan. He called for more money to support farm programs. However, he reiterated that there is “no way” Democrats will support cuts to nutrition funding or repurposing Inflation Reduction Act conservation funds for other needs.

Scott emphasized that he has a good working relationship with Republican Ag Committee Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson. However, that didn’t stop him from calling out other GOP lawmakers.

 “Unfortunately, bipartisanship has fallen victim to right-wing extremists who are currently dominating the House Republican caucus,” Scott said.

Democrat principles for the next farm bill

According to the Democrats' principles memo, any farm bill must reduce hunger by ensuring a robust domestic food supply that includes providing adequate food access to those in need. It must also strengthen farmers by providing access to capital, technical assistance and crops insurance while also investing in research and local infrastructure.

Democrats say they want to create more opportunities in rural communities through investments in clean water and energy infrastructure, improving broadband access, and providing more access to capital, and improving affordable health care and childcare options. They say the farm bill must include efforts that lower input costs, reduce barriers, and improve market competition and transparency.

The Democrats' priority memo also supports more efforts to improve equity and initiatives to expand renewable energy and bioenergy projects.

What happens next?

Earlier this year, Chairman Thompson said he hoped to get a farm bill on the floor by March. During a call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon, none of the committee members in attendance were willing to predict when they expect a bill at this point.

“I’ll just say that the time is now, and if they’re ready to work, then so are we,” Rep. Shontel Brown, ranking member of the General Farm Commodities, Risk Management and Credit Subcommittee, said.

As for the putting more money into the bill without cutting nutrition or conservation funding, Brown said it is difficult when Republicans are “consistently and constantly moving the goal.”

She says she is “cautiously optimistic” that House Speaker Mike Johnson will eventually authorize more farm bill funding.

Brown also spoke highly of her working relationship with her Republican subcommittee counterpart, Rep. Max Miller. She added that Democrats plan to leverage “every opportunity and option available” to push the bill through.

“We will continue to put people over politics and fight for those who have been underserved, and underrepresented, and to make sure that they get more than crumbs on the table but a real slice of the pie,” Brown said.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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