Lawmakers have spent a year in listening sessions and congressional hearings for the 2023 farm bill but are still weeks away from drafting the legislation, said leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees. They are waiting for new budget estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, expected in mid-May, and for a decision on raising the federal debt limit.
The government must honor its 2021 offer of $4 billion in loan forgiveness to Black and other socially disadvantaged farmers, even though Congress repealed the aid program this summer, said a class action lawsuit filed on Wednesday. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, likened the situation to the loss of assistance to Black farmers after the Civil War.
A congressionally created $3.1 billion debt relief program for financially distressed farmers who borrowed money through USDA programs could be in place within weeks, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. Speed is vital, he said, because a moratorium on debt collections and foreclosures could expire in October.
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.
The House Budget Committee approved an estimated $4 billion of debt relief for minority farmers on Monday as part of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Monday, with one member protesting that the aid was unfair. The CBO said due to incomplete data, the cost of paying off USDA loans …