Since early this year, farm groups worried about rising production costs have called for higher reference prices, which are used in calculating crop subsidies, to be written into the 2023 farm bill. Congress is months away from drafting the farm bill, so there has been little discussion of the budgetary impact. But it could be significant, according to university economists who looked at a related concept: The reference-price escalator that was included in the 2018 farm law.
Concerned by rising production costs and the longevity of sky-high commodity prices, farm-state lawmakers floated margin protection for crop growers and standby farm disaster programs on Thursday for inclusion in the 2023 farm bill. However, farm bill funding may be tight, which could limit Congress’ ability to add new features to the farm program.
Warning that “pandemic aid is morphing into endemic aid,” the Republican leader on the House Agriculture Committee said on Wednesday that it was time to rein in food stamp spending. Other farm-state Republicans called for stricter eligibility rules as a way to push people into the workforce and said SNAP “promotes a perverse business of poverty.”
The pandemic exposed the weaknesses of a food system built around large-volume production and national supply chains, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. As a remedy, he said, the USDA would help independent processors start up or expand their operations and encourage local marketing.
A new report urges Congress to make reducing food waste a priority in the 2023 farm bill in order to address climate change and hunger while benefiting the economy. The U.S. wastes more than one-third of the food it produces and imports, according to the report, published last week by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, the Natural Resources Defense Council, ReFED and the World Wildlife Fund.
Farmers are ready to act on global warming "and we need to help them do more," said Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow at the committee's first hearing on the 2023 farm bill, held at Michigan State University. "We've seen the overwhelming popularity of voluntary conservation programs."
With farm bill reauthorization coming up next year, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on Thursday focusing on SNAP, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of the bill’s budget. But foreshadowing what could be a messy process, Democratic and Republican lawmakers staked out familiar ground and sparred over the food assistance program.
The first Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the 2023 farm bill will be held in Michigan on April 29, announced committee leaders on Wednesday. Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow has said field hearings in Michigan and Arkansas would begin the process of gathering ideas for the bill.
Food stamp enrollment will remain high well into 2023 due to the lingering effects of the pandemic and its disruption of the U.S. economy, said the Agriculture Department in its proposed budget for the new fiscal year. It estimated an average 43.5 million people would receive food stamps during fiscal 2023, a 3 percent increase from this year.
Congress could fail to pass the upcoming 2023 farm bill if Republicans try to mangle the food stamp program, warned House Agriculture chairman David Scott on Monday. Speaking at a farm conference, Scott said the farm-and food-coalition of rural and urban groups was vital to enactment of the farm bill, panoramic legislation that ranges from farm and stewardship subsidies to SNAP, agricultural research and rural development.
Congress should substantially increase — as much as double — funding for USDA stewardship programs that encourage climate mitigation and help farmers make money from climate-smart practices, said a Washington think tank on Wednesday.
Congress could use the 2023 farm bill to promote a “circular economy” that creates jobs and income in rural America rather than relying on rural areas for raw materials that are processed elsewhere, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. “That's an important component of any farm bill discussion of the future,” he told reporters.