House and Senate announce farm bill proposals

Path to new legislation still remains unclear

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

May 1, 2024

3 Min Read
Capitol building political divide
Getty Images/Douglas Rissing

Leaders of the House and the Senate Agriculture committees both announced plans to consider farm bill legislation. While the announcement marks a major milestone, the path to a new farm bill this year remains as uncertain as ever.

Early Wednesday morning, House Agriculture Committee Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson released a title-by-title overview of what he says are bipartisan policies and priorities in a new farm bill. He expects the committee to mark up the bill on May 23, and hopes for unanimous support.

“This bill is a product of an extensive and transparent process, which included soliciting feedback from members of both political parties, stakeholder input from across the nation, and some tough conversations,” Thompson says. “Each title of this farm bill reflects a commitment to the American farmer and viable pathways to funding those commitments and is equally responsive to the politics of the 118th Congress.”

Democrats learned late Tuesday night that the Chairman planned to release the Republican-drafted bill early Wednesday. Democrats had floated their own farm bill draft, which they expected to be considered during negotiations. Instead, they say their plan was soundly rejected.

According to Thompson’s farm bill overview, the Republican proposal will increase Price Loss Coverage and Agricultural Risk Coverage programs. It also expands crop insurance and includes language prohibiting state and local governments from imposing additional restrictions on livestock not under their authority. This would specifically prohibit laws like California’s controversial Proposition 12.

Conservation programs would be expanded by repurposing money from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. Democrats had previously opposed using IRA funds in the farm bill. However, there now appears to be a wiliness on their part to accept some repurposed funds if they are allocated toward conservation efforts.

Nutrition funding remains the major sticking point between the two parties. According to Thompson’s farm bill overview, the Republican proposal will provide additional resources and increase access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. However, the Republican proposal also includes language prohibiting “unelected bureaucrats from arbitrarily increasing or decimating SNAP benefits.” It also includes a provision to “hold USDA and states accountable to the generosity of the American taxpayer.”  

While they have yet to see the specific details, Democrats expect the Republican proposal to include language that will ultimately diminish nutrition programs. Ranking Member David Scott, D- Ga., wasted little time denouncing the Republican bill.

He says that 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. Scott added that their proposal has “no chance of becoming law.”

"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,” Scott says. “Unfortunately, Republicans rejected this bipartisan approach in favor of a partisan bill with an untenable funding scheme. “

Progress in the Senate?

Over in the Democrat-led Senate, Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow introduced the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act on Wednesday. That’s a fancier way of saying “new farm bill.” She says the legislation includes 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.

Stabenow accused House Republicans of playing politics with food assistance and splitting the farm bill coalition. She contends that the Senate Democrats’ proposal holds together the “broad coalition” that serves as the foundation of a successful farm bill. According to her, farmers, families and rural communities cannot wait any longer for the 2024 Farm Bill.

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

Republican Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member John Boozman called the Stabenow’s draft a “welcome development.”  He says Republican Senators will release their farm bill framework after the House considers its bill.

“With Chairwoman Stabenow releasing a framework that reflects Senate Democrats’ priorities, and Chairman Thompson’s work to advance legislation out of committee this month, I’m optimistic that real progress on the farm bill can still occur this Congress,” Boozman says.

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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