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Dems push back on Republican farm bill proposal

Disagreements over nutrition and conservation may make proposal a non-starter

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

May 16, 2024

2 Min Read
Capitol building
Getty Images/YayaErnst

House Ag Committee Republicans are set to release their farm bill draft on Friday. While the wait continues for the legislation’s specifics, opponents are wasting little time pushing back against what they expect to be an unacceptable bill.

On Wednesday afternoon, House Agriculture Committee Democrats met with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D- N.Y., and Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow. Shortly afterward, Stabenow and House Ag Committee Ranking Member David Scott issued a statement calling for a “strong, bipartisan” farm bill. It’s clear that’s not what they consider the imminent Republican proposal to be.

“House Republicans are undermining this goal by proposing policies that split the broad, bipartisan coalition that has always been the foundation of a successful farm bill,” Scott and Stabenow said.

“We need a farm bill that holds the coalition together and upholds the historic tradition of providing food assistance to our most vulnerable Americans while keeping our commitment to our farmers battling the effects of the climate crisis every day. Democrats remain ready and willing to work with Republicans on a truly bipartisan farm bill to keep farmers farming, families fed, and rural communities strong.”

The anticipated farm bill draft includes changes to nutrition program guidelines. Democrats say those changes amount to massive benefit cuts. The Republican proposal would also move conservation funding from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act into the conservation title of the farm bill.

Related:Farm bill progress or posturing?

Republican supporters contend that moving that funding permanently enshrines it into the farm bill. Democrats counter those change remove important “climate guardrails” that ensure the funding is only used for programs with scientifically proven climate benefits.

Earlier Wednesday, the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition hosted a Capitol Hill press conference with congressional reps and farmers pushing to save those climate guardrails. SEEC Climate and Agriculture Task Force Co-Chairs Chellie Pingree, D- Maine, and Kim Schrier, D- Wash., urged lawmakers to hold the line against Republican efforts to erode the guardrails and slash nutrition program funding.

“Last Congress, we secured climate-smart funding for our farmers who are working hard to deliver a resilient food supply chain for the American people,” they say. “At this critical juncture in farm bill negotiations, we reiterate that removing these popular climate-smart protections is a nonstarter.”

Over the past two weeks, Republican House Ag Committee Chair Glenn “GT “Thompson has released broad outlines of the GOP’s farm bill proposal. Still, Democrats have yet to see the full text of the bill.

Despite this, the House Ag Committee is set to consider the legislation on March 23. Where the bill goes after that remains the great unknown.

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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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