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2023 Farm Bill finally getting attention from House, Senate
Illinois Correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Both the US House and Senate finally returned their attention last week to crafting the 2023 Farm Bill. 
On May 1, House Republicans released an outline of their proposals for the farm bill, which includes expanded funding for trade promotion and takes aim at California’s controversial animal housing law Proposition 12. According to, the plan “notably addresses major concerns from Democrats by keeping an additional $20 billion in climate funding allocated under the Inflation Reduction Act within the conservation title. It also leaves food assistance benefits intact, though seeks to limit the executive branch from ‘arbitrarily increasing or decimating’ the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane responded to the release of both committees’ farm bill frameworks, while favoring the House outline.  
“We are very pleased with the Farm Bill framework released by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson. Since 2023, Chairman Thompson has gone to great lengths to meet with America’s cattle producers in every region of the country and craft a farm bill that supports their unique needs. We are especially pleased by the chairman’s focus on voluntary conservation programs that are increasingly popular with cattle producers, animal health provisions that protect the U.S. cattle herd, and investments in food security that support our broader national security,” Lane said in a news release. 
“Unfortunately, the Senate Agriculture Committee majority has failed to engage in the same level of outreach to real cattle producers, and their framework reflects that lack of producer input. While there are some bipartisan elements to the Senate proposal, there are many provisions which would be harmful to livestock producers. We look forward to the House Agriculture Committee’s May Farm Bill markup and will continue engaging with members of the committees to advocate for the cattle industry,” he added. 
“The (House) Committee on Agriculture will markup this bill on May 23, and I hope for unanimous support in this endeavor to bring stability to producers, protect our nation’s food security, and revitalize rural America,” said Thompson.
House Agriculture Committee Democrats have offered a counter proposal to the committee’s farm bill that suggests using USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation funding authority to shore up commodity programs and crop insurance, according to a summary of the proposal obtained by Agri-Pulse. noted that the House farm bill outline contained a number of “nonstarters” for Democrats, with one of the biggest divides over the Thrifty Food Plan, which is the basis for determining benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
On the Senate side, Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said a bill she introduced to inform the Senate’s 2023 Farm Bill proposal was trying not to cross ‘bright lines’ to garner a bipartisan vote in committee and on the Senate floor. She doesn’t have a date for a mark-up but said she will continue ‘serious, bipartisan negotiations’ to reach an agreement before setting a markup date, Progressive Farmer reported.
“The Senate plan would expand the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) by boosting the premium subsidy to 80 percent and increasing coverage levels to 88 percent,” the publication reported. “…Stabenow said her framework also includes more tweaks to policies such as whole farm insurance to expand policy options for small and medium-sized farmers.”
Stabenow’s Rural Prosperity and Food Security (RPFS) Act, which contains more than 100 bipartisan bills, is touted by her camp as “putting the 2024 Farm Bill back on track.” 
Stabenow 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. 
“This is that bill, and I welcome my Republican colleagues to take it seriously and rejoin us at the negotiating table so we can finish our work by the end of the year. Farmers, families, and rural communities cannot wait any longer on the 2024 Farm Bill.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said that although a lot of work still remained, he was encouraged by the House and Senate Agriculture committees release of title-by-title overviews of the 2024 farm bill. “We’re encouraged to see both proposals acknowledge that programs farmers and ranchers across the country use require additional investment in the face of falling commodity prices and increased inflation. And both proposals recognize the important role farmers and ranchers play in protecting our land, water and air through voluntary, working lands conservation programs,” Duvall said in an AFBF news release. 
“Farm Bureau stands ready to work with lawmakers in both chambers to provide insight and guidance on whether each proposal would – positively or negatively – impact the hard-working and resilient families who continue to put healthy, safe and affordable food on the table for everyone in this country and beyond,” he added.
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew chimed in on the 2024 Farm Bill overviews issued by the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, saying “Considering the volatility in the food system since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law, family farmers need a farm bill that establishes a stronger farm safety net, builds fairer and more competitive markets and creates better opportunities for the next generation of farmers. We are encouraged to see (the) progress and look forward to working with the committees as they forge ahead in the process.” 
Michelle Hughes, Co-Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), said his organization was excited by Stabenow’s RPFS Act because it addresses many of the concerns of young farmers including access to land and capital, and climate change action. 
“Our 2022 Young Farmer Agenda is clear about the meaningful and necessary changes to federal farm policy that the new generation of young farmers and farmers of color need in order to steward the sustainable and resilient food systems our communities will depend on into the future,” said Hughes. “We are heartened to see the Senate Farm Bill priorities include steps toward more equitable land access and transition, support for the conservation practices young farmers are already leading on their farms, expanded investment in farmer mental health and well being, and more.”
The Illinois Stewardship Alliance said the organization was pleased to see many priorities for small and sustainable farmers in Illinois included in Stabenow’s bill. Like the NYFC, the Alliance was particularly happy with the expansion of access to USDA farm insurance and credit programs for new and current farmers offered through the legislation. 
“Often, one of the most difficult challenges for small to mid-sized farmers working diversified and sustainable farms is accessing programs that have been designed primarily to serve the biggest commodity crop farms,” said Ed Dubrick, Alliance Policy Organizer and livestock farmer in east central Illinois. 
According to the Alliance, the Senate’s early farm bill outline “raises concerns, but provide(s) few details. It is clear this bill doubles down on outdated and ineffective programs that reward the largest and richest farmers and industry groups.
“This new Farm Bill must reflect the lessons learned from the last five years by making transformational changes to our national food and agriculture systems to reduce economic inequality, bridge the nation’s racial divides, end hunger, confront the climate crisis, improve nutrition and food safety, and protect farmers and workers who feed our communities local, healthy, and sustainable food,” an Alliance news release stated, in part.