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Farm Bill Fallout

The newest version of the Farm Bill is good. It’s bad. Congress is going to pass it. Congress won’t pass it. Take your pick. There are many different early takes on the bill.

Here’s one thing on which everyone can agree: the Farm Bill is overdue. Congress failed to pass a new one last year and merely extended the expiring legislation into this year. Will members agree on this part agriculture/mostly food assistance and nutrition-focused, far-reaching legislation in 2024? Let the arguments begin.

Thursday, the U.S. House Agricultural Committee took up the new version. It is a 942-page, $1.5 trillion, five-year package.  

Let’s look at the various opinions on what the Farm Bill does and does not include.

--U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, accused House Republicans (who hold a slim majority in that chamber) of taking money from food assistance programs to give additional money to peanut, rice, and cotton industries.  “You can’t rob Peter to pay Paul,” Vilsack warned. The Hill has that story. 

--Vilsack also alleged that House Republicans designed the bill for an “impasse,” freezing the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan (which sets food assistance payments). Presumably, that would be an unpopular decision with Congressional Democrats. Roll Call has that story.

--South Dakota’s only member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Dusty Johnson, defended the framework, saying that the plan won’t cut food assistance benefits for anyone. They will limit future increases. South Dakota Searchlight has that angle. 

--The Farm Bill would increase funding to help farmers sell products abroad, add financial resources for specialty crop programs, and eliminate the existing lifetime ban on low-income Americans with a previous drug conviction from receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Politico has those details. 

--The National Wildlife Federation points out that the Farm Bill includes a record investment in conservation through the Inflation Reduction Act, but that it cuts other programs focused on protecting the environment. Read that here.

 --MJBizDaily (“MJ” as in Mary Jane) focused on an amendment to the Farm Bill that would ban intoxicating hemp. Read that here. 

RELATED: Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican and family farmer, doesn’t think the Farm Bill will pass this year. Here is what is behind his pessimism. 


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