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Thompson optimistic about passing farm bill

House Ag Committee Chair promises legislation before Memorial Day.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

April 17, 2024

3 Min Read
GT Thompson
Joshua Baethge

There just might be a new farm bill this year. During a Tuesday press briefing with the National Association of Agriculture Journalists, House Agriculture Committee Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson indicated committee members are close to finalizing a new farm bill.

While he revealed few specifics, Thompson says the bill should be agreeable to members of both parties. Notably, he says new farm safety net program funding will not come from nutrition program cuts or repurposed Inflation Reduction Act funds, two key sticking points with Democrats.

“While I wish we could have gotten this farm bill done earlier, there were some forces outside of our control that obviously prevented that,” Thompson said. “However, I’m happy to say without a doubt that the committee will mark up a farm bill before Memorial Day.”

Over the coming weeks, he says final details will be ironed out with USDA and the Congressional Budget Office. Thompson says he doesn’t consider those issues to be “hurdles,” just a few “technical things.”

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, who spoke shorty before Thompson, says things are also moving along in the Senate. While she wasn’t ready to predict a date for Senate legislation, she says committee members have finished “over half” of the 12 farm bill titles.

“We’ve gotten substantial bipartisan agreement and have been able to, I think, predominantly bring those together,” she said. “We’re still working on the rest of it, so we’ll move once I know that we can actually get this done.”

While getting bills through the committees would be a significant achievement, it would also be just the start of what could be a contentious process. Both chambers of Congress would have to agree on a final bill to send to President Biden. Many of the “forces outside of our control” that Thompson alluded to still exist.

Due to the razor-thin majority Republicans hold in the House, Speaker Mike Johnson will have to get Democrat support for anything to pass. That could anger more conservative congressional reps who are already upset with Johnson for working with Democrats. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is still considering moving forward with a motion to vacate that could potentially remove Johnson from the Speaker chair.

During remarks on Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack praised Thompson’s efforts to pass a bipartisan farm bill but cautioned that the key will be in the details.

Vilsack noted 21 Republicans on the House Ag Committee are also members of a study group that recently issued a 2025 budget proposal titled “Fiscal Sanity to Save America.”  That report includes a recommendation to eliminate all subsidies for farmers with an adjusted gross income of more than $500,000. The study proposes a $40,000 cap on subsidies for all farmers and a 14% reduction on crop insurance premium assistance. Conservation and technical assistance programs could also be significantly cut or eliminated altogether.

Vilsack called the recommendations “pretty radical,” and example of just how hard it will be to get a bipartisan farm bill passed.

Stabenow said she was “shocked” when she heard the study commission’s recommendations. Still, there is no indication those provisions are being seriously considered during the current farm bill negotiations. Thompson, for one, says he’s excited with the progress lawmakers have made.

“I think we’ve found some pretty creative ways to find what I think will be a transformational and highly effective farm bill,” he said.

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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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