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Political Landscape

As the calendar turns to 2024, it officially begins an election year. Does that mean Congress will become even more unproductive in the year ahead? Is that even possible?

For anyone hoping that a Democratic president, Democratic-control U.S. senate and Republican-controlled U.S. house would work together in 2023 to improve some of the country’s challenges, they end the year extremely disappointed.

Republicans rip President Joe Biden and D.C. Democrats for spending too much, causing inflation (it’s more complicated than that as evidenced by higher inflation in some other developed countries) and failing to better secure the country’s southern border.

But Republicans have failed to pass detailed spending cuts and immigration reform, while focusing attention on impeaching the president (although, some admit the evidence is not there for that action).

Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on a new Farm Bill and instead extended the version that was expiring in 2023. That brought short-term certainty. So did their last-minute deal to extend spending plans. They failed to create a longer-term strategy but at least didn’t shut down parts of the federal government and inflict pain because of their (in)action.  

This level of dysfunction may leave landowners, farmers and potential investors wondering what to expect. Here are four questions that could impact them in the new year:

1.       A new Farm Bill – Will Congress/the president reduce federal farm support programs as part of a spending plan because of the country’s $34 trillion debt? Doubtful.

2.       Immigration reform – Can the two major political parties agree to get Mexico involved to lessen the surge of migrants heading to the border; limit migrants crossing the border undetected; speed up/significantly improve the asylum process to determine who can stay; provide more certainty for migrants living in the U.S. and/or their children about whether they can have a path to legal status or whether they must leave; and increase legal immigration to help with farmland work shortages? Very, very doubtful.

3.       Interest rates – Fortunately, this may ease without action by Congress. The Federal Reserve Board may have instituted a delicate balance of raising rates to cool the economy without collapsing the country into a recession. The Fed could start reducing rates in the first quarter of 2024.

4.       Renewable energy – Wind, solar and biofuels all require federal financial support and local/state commitment. They also offer financial potential to smaller communities and not just petroleum producers as the country works to become more energy self-sufficient.  

The overall political climate can feel like a powder keg with cultural disagreements, misinformation and threats acting like a flame near a fuse. Here’s hoping that decision makers act with true patriotism and commitment to the Americans committed to feeding and fueling the world, while promoting and protecting a sustainable environment for generations to come.


American Farmland Owner Hayfields mountains


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