The current tug-of-war among lawmakers for farm bill funding "offers a case study" of the long-running tension between conservation and crop subsidies, said Jonathan Coppess, associate professor at the University of Illinois. This time, the issue is whether to shift up to $18 billion that was earmarked for climate mitigation (in the 2022 climate, healthcare, and tax law) into crop subsidies.
President Biden will open his administration’s “investing in rural America” blitz on a Minnesota farm on Wednesday with the announcement of $5 billion in funding for soil and water conservation, rural infrastructure, and economic development. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the $1.7 billion allotted for stewardship was the largest single-year injection of money ever into USDA conservation programs.
Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow curtly rejected on Thursday a suggestion to divert climate change funding for agriculture to more generalized soil and water conservation work. “I know that there is a broad coalition of support standing with me,” she said.
The two largest U.S. farm groups stuck to requests for expensive changes in the farm safety net — higher crop subsidy rates and broader access to subsidized insurance — in the face of a warning on Tuesday that the money might not be available. Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow pointed to proposals that would tie an increase in the federal debt limit to steep cuts in spending.
After two record-setting years in a row, U.S. net farm income will decline sharply in the near term, pulled down by lower crop and livestock prices, though it will remain well above its 10-year average, said FAPRI on Wednesday. The University of Missouri think tank said food inflation would drop to 4.4 percent this year — less than half of last year’s rate — and run at 2 percent in following years.
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.
After surging to a record $149 billion last year as part of the federal response to the pandemic, SNAP will cost $121 billion a year in the near term, said the Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday.
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.
With its toothless payment limits, the U.S. farm program directs billions of dollars a year to the largest and wealthiest farmers in America while struggling family farmers often are overlooked, said the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
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.
Farmers will be able to adopt climate-smart practices at a faster pace, thanks to funding in the climate, healthcare and tax bill passed by Congress, said House Agriculture chairman David Scott. President Biden planned to sign the bill into law this week.
The climate, tax and healthcare bill passed by Democratic senators on Sunday included $20 billion to ramp up USDA's voluntary land stewardship programs, a potential windfall for climate mitigation ahead of the 2023 farm bill. "We are equipping farmers, foresters and rural communities with the necessary tool to be part of the solution," said Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow.
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.
Farmers and landowners would share a combined $5 billion in payments for planting cover crops to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff under a proposal written by farm state Democrats in the Senate and House. The package would also boost spending on a handful of existing stewardship programs for total outlays of $28 billion.
Farm, wildlife, and environmental groups, from the Sierra Club to the National Farmers Union, on Wednesday called on lawmakers to increase funding for USDA land stewardship programs by $50 billion.
President Biden’s months-delayed budget calls for small increases in land stewardship spending, around $300 million a year in the near term, by USDA to mitigate climate change. The administration also proposed a $65 million increase in funding for USDA’s ReConnect program to deploy broadband to …
Lawmakers should increase funding for the USDA's land stewardship programs as part of the administration's infrastructure bill because funding will probably be tight when Congress writes the 2023 farm bill, dozens of farm, conservation, and environmental groups said in a letter.
Seven dozen land stewardship projects across the nation will share a combined $330 million in federal funding for soil and water conservation on a watershed scale, said the USDA on Monday. “The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is public-partnerships working at their best,” said …