At listening session, calls for greater farm bill funding and a stronger SNAP
Congress needs to modernize the crop insurance program and update farm subsidies to reflect higher input costs and volatile commodity markets when it writes the new farm bill, said the leader of the largest U.S. farm group at a listening session in Texas on Wednesday. An anti-hunger leader asked lawmakers to “keep the importance of access to SNAP and the adequacy of those benefits top of mind throughout farm bill discussions.”
Rising cost of SNAP could drive farmers out of farm bill coalition, says Boozman
The price tag for SNAP is going up so quickly — doubling during the pandemic — that it will poison support for the farm subsidy and land stewardship programs that make up the rest of the farm bill, said the senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. “You are going to crowd out our ability ... to use funds on other programs,” said Arkansas Sen. John Boozman.
Strengthen the farm safety net and rely less on bailouts, say farm-state senators
The government has spent nearly $70 billion on disaster, trade war, and pandemic relief since the 2018 farm bill was enacted, a huge amount that shows the need for a strong farm safety net that’s written into law rather than on the fly, said farm-state senators on Thursday. They called for a stronger and expanded crop insurance program as the first line of support for farmers and ranchers against uncertain weather, volatile commodity markets, and rising production expenses.
SNAP claims larger share of farm bill outlays
The new farm bill could cost nearly $130 billion a year — the highest price tag ever — with public nutrition programs getting more than $4 of every $5, wrote associate professor Roman Keeney in Purdue’s annual agricultural economics review. “The overall budget, and particularly spending on the nutrition title (primarily food assistance for low-income households), should continue to be the most politically divisive component of the farm bill debate.”
The ‘four corners’ of ag policy are back for the farm bill
House Democrats elected Georgia Rep. David Scott as their leader on the Agriculture Committee on Thursday for the congressional session that begins on Jan. 3. The vote means the “four corners” of the 2023 farm bill will be the same four lawmakers who led the House and Senate ag committees for the past two years.
Advocates looked for a ‘Paris moment’ at biodiversity talks. They think they got it.
Environmental groups at the UN Biodiversity Conference hoped for a "Paris moment" for nature — one that would bring the same urgency to the fight against biodiversity loss that now propels the one against climate change. As the conference came to a close in Montreal on Monday, there was the sense among many that they had largely succeeded, even if putting the deal into practice will require a huge effort. (No paywall)
Sen. Booker seeks substantial expansion of ‘food as medicine’ programs
Congress should "substantially scale up" programs like a produce prescription and nutrition incentive program at USDA and create a food box program to provide locally grown produce to Medicaid participants, said Sen. Cory Booker on Tuesday. "Food as medicine programs can be transformative," said the New Jersey Democrat during a Senate Agriculture subcommittee hearing on the issue.
As UN Biodiversity Conference opens, a plea for ‘a peace pact’ with nature
With one million species at risk of extinction, policymakers, scientists and activists gathered for the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal to hammer out a plan to end and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. Agriculture — considered the driver of 70 percent of all biodiversity loss — is key to the negotiations, which will center on conserving land and water, reducing pollution, redirecting subsidies that enable environmental harm, and curtailing unsustainable production and consumption. No paywall
‘Enhance the farm safety net,’ says top Republican on House Ag
Congress should strengthen the crop insurance and farm subsidy programs so producers don't have to rely on stop-gap federal aid to survive trade wars, natural disasters and the pandemic, the Republican leader on the House Agriculture Committee said on Tuesday. Other speakers during a webcast discussion said global warming requires the 2023 farm bill to be the most climate-friendly bill ever.
Farm bill priorities: More stewardship, less reliance on subsidies
The 2023 farm bill should eliminate wasteful subsidies to the biggest farmers and landowners in favor of programs that reach more producers at a lower cost, said a coalition of budget hawks, a consumer group and a small farm advocate in a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday.
Farm Bureau seeks ‘unified’ farm bill of agriculture and nutrition aid
The largest U.S. farm group believes “it makes perfect sense” to combine commodity supports and SNAP in the same piece of big-ticket legislation, said president Zippy Duvall in announcing the American Farm Bureau Federation’s farm bill priorities on Thursday. The AFBF called for higher subsidy rates, at a still-to-be-determined cost, and more emphasis of stewardship on working lands rather than long-term idling of cropland.
For farm bill, ag groups say, ‘We want some more’
Net farm income is at record levels, thanks to high commodity prices, and is expected to remain strong for two or three years, yet farm groups are telling Congress “that existing subsidy programs should be continued, their scope expanded, and federal spending increased” in the 2023 farm bill, said an American Enterprise Institute analyst.
Farm-state Republicans object to climate focus in land stewardship
Climate mitigation does not deserve priority over other soil and water conservation goals notwithstanding the $20 billion earmarked for it, said two senior Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. "I don't feel bound by the amount of funding or the specific program allocation passed in the partisan (climate, health and tax) bill," said Pennsylvania Rep Glenn Thompson, the Republican leader on the committee.
U.S. should increase aid to farmers and food assistance programs — survey
More than 60 percent of consumers across the political spectrum support increasing government support for both farmers and food assistance as a response to inflation, according to a survey released last week by the University of Illinois. Liberals had the highest rates of support for both, with 90.2 percent supporting increased funding for food programs and 85.3 percent supporting increased funding for farmers, the Gardner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey found. Conservatives had lower levels of support for both, but 64.4 percent still supported increased funding for food programs and 66.4 percent, increased funding for farmers.
Crop insurance cap could save billions — NSAC
Billions in taxpayer dollars could be saved over the next decade if the 2023 Farm Bill puts a cap on federal subsidies paid to farmers who purchase crop insurance, according to a special report published Tuesday by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).
House conservatives’ proposal: Blow up the farm bill
Congress would dismember the farm bill if it adopted the ideas proposed by the conservative Republican Study Committee, whose membership includes four of every five Republicans in the House. In a budget package, the RSC said it would sever public nutrition programs from the farm bill, eradicate major farm supports and slash federal support of crop insurance.
World hunger rate rises quickly as global economy stutters
Nearly one in 10 people worldwide suffer from hunger, an increase of 150 million since the pandemic struck in 2020, and the numbers are sure to worsen, said the annual UN hunger report on Wednesday. “The global price spikes that we are seeing as a result of the crisis in Ukraine threaten to push countries around the world into famine,” said the leader of the World Food Program.
Danger signs for 2023 farm bill in partisan rancor on Capitol Hill
Congress traditionally enacts the farm policy bills covering the gamut from crop subsidies to food stamps at the urging of a coalition of farm, conservation and anti-hunger groups. A former USDA official said the 2023 farm bill could be in peril if there is a repetition of the political turbulence that temporarily derailed the omnibus legislation twice in the eight years.
Senate vote near for USDA farm subsidy and conservation chief
Three months ago, the Senate Agriculture Committee recommended Senate approval of Robert Bonnie to run the USDA's farm subsidy and land stewardship programs, which cost more than $10 billion a year. The nomination is set for a floor vote next week, after a series of delays forced by senators who put "holds" on it.