Chance of a farm bill dwindling

The head lobbyist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the chances of getting a farm bill done this year are dwindling.  Ethan Lane says it shouldn’t come as a surprise that an extension of the current farm bill is being discussed.  “Chairwoman Stabenow has said it in the last few weeks, Chairman Thompson as well, they’ve never done a farm bill on time,” he says.  

He tells Brownfield while work is being done behind the scenes there’s still a lot of work to be done with not a lot of time left.  “Chairman Thompson has been declarative that he wants this to be bicameral and bipartisan, and highly effective,” he says.  “Highly effective doesn’t happen when you rush it under extreme pressure with extenuating circumstances like the appropriations process that is looming right now.”

The House hasn’t been able to pass a 2024 funding bill for the USDA and FDA, casting even more doubt on the likelihood of getting a Farm Bill done this year.  The House is debating the Fiscal Year 2024 Agriculture spending bill this week.   However, even if it did pass the House, there have been indications it has no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.  

Lane says the appropriations process matters — and it’s more important for the farm bill to be done correctly than for it to be done quickly.  “We don’t get to take a pass on the math in the House of Representatives,” he says.  “We’ve seen what that tight vote margin does for them to be able to reach across the aisle and pull Democrats into that bill in order to move it forward.  That is going to take some time to get right.”

Brownfield interviewed Lane during the NCBA’s 2023 Summer Business Meeting in San Diego, California.  

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