Eleven of the 29 Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee voted against the government funding bill that includes a one-year extension of the 2018 farm law, House records show. The extension would give the Senate and House Agriculture committees more time to write the next farm bill.
The H-2A visa program for farm workers needs to be modernized, said the leaders of a working group composed of one third of the members of the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. An interim report by the working group said growers turn to the H-2A visa as a last resort because of its "high costs and regulatory complexities," and that agricultural labor is increasingly difficult to find.
Pointing to "extremism and cynicism" among House Republicans, the Democratic leader on the House Agriculture Committee called for a one-year extension of current law to allow time to write a bipartisan farm bill. Meanwhile, House Agriculture chairman Glenn Thompson told a home-state newspaper to expect a farm bill vote in the House during December.
The senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee “is having conversations about an extension” of the 2018 farm law into the new year, said a spokesperson on Wednesday. Farm leaders in Congress have said they intend to enact a new farm bill by late December, but a legislative logjam is growing on Capitol Hill.
Georgia Rep. Austin Scott, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, was shunted aside by fellow Republicans in his one-day bid to become speaker of the House. Scott, a mainstream conservative, said he would support Rep. Jim Jordan, who won the GOP nomination on a 121-81 vote, when the House votes this week on a successor to Kevin McCarthy.
A decade after the House briefly put the idea into play, a senior Republican on the House Agriculture Committee said the far-ranging farm bill should be divided into two separate pieces of legislation: SNAP and everything else. SNAP, which cost $119 billion last year, has become “an emotional, political issue” that taints consideration of farm supports, said Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia.
The 2023 farm bill is headed for defeat if Republican leaders meddle with SNAP, said Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee on Monday, pointing to floor votes that delayed enactment of the 2014 and 2018 bill. It was the second warning by the committee’s Democrats against additional cuts in food stamps following revisions in the debt limit deal in June.
Over the past couple of months, the common target for enactment of the new farm bill has become "this year," rather than the Sept. 30 expiration of the current law. Chairman Glenn Thompson of the House Agriculture Committee said on Tuesday that Sept. 30 was becoming uncomfortably close on the calendar.
The error rate of SNAP over- and underpayments — 11.54 percent — "is unacceptable and threatens the integrity of the program," said the leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees, who oversee food stamps. The error rate in fiscal 2022 was the highest in years and 4 points higher than before the pandemic.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell all but ruled out new funding for the 2023 farm bill on Tuesday while the lead Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee said "we're in the early stages of negotiations with the House" on the legislation. Neither committee has taken a step in public to write a successor to the 2018 farm law, which expires on September 30.
House Democrats announced their opposition to further cuts in SNAP on Wednesday amid signs the farm bill will be the next battlefront over work requirements for safety net programs. “We stand united against efforts to take food away from children, families, or any vulnerable American — in the farm bill or any legislation,” said Rep. David Scott, the senior Democrat on the Agriculture Committee.
Congress "must remove the climate restrictions" on $20 billion in funding that had been given to the USDA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resiliency, said two senior Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. Chairman Glenn Thompson and Indiana Rep. Jim Baird said the money should be available for all land stewardship practices.
House Republican leaders unveiled a 320-page bill that would cut federal spending by $130 billion in the new fiscal year, including wider application of a 90-day limit on SNAP benefits to people working less than 20 hours a week. Agriculture Committee chair Glenn Thompson said the leadership’s bill “is a sensible proposal” to rein in federal spending.
Eight current members of the House Agriculture Committee received farm subsidies at some point since 1998, said the Environmental Working Group on Tuesday. Seven of the eight describe themselves on their congressional websites as farmers or the offspring of a farm family.
Congress will write the 2023 farm bill without harming SNAP, notwithstanding Republican suggestions to restrict food-stamp eligibility, said the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee on Monday. "There is no way we are going to accept any cuts in this program," said Rep. David Scott of Georgia at a farm conference.
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.”
After describing the farm economy in apocalyptic terms, the House Agriculture Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to seek “additional resources” of an unspecified amount “to enact a strong farm bill in 2023.” The committee also said it would consider whether to divert all or part of the $20 billion awarded to the USDA for climate mitigation to other needy programs.
The race for control of the House in 2024 begins as a toss-up, with five members of the House Agriculture Committee—three Republicans and two Democrats— on the bubble, said Sabato's Crystal Ball.