Side taking shape in fight over Farm Bill

The fight for the future of the nation’s next Farm Bill is about to get underway in earnest.

The current version of the Farm Bill expired last September.

Drafts in both the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate are starting to appear.

Warren County is uniquely positioned in this ongoing debate as part of Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District.

Why? Congressman Glenn Thompson is the first Pennsy;vanian to lead the House Agriculture Committee in 170 years. A key role of that committee is getting the Farm Bill across the finish line.

Overviews of the proposal forthcoming in the House were released last week in advance of a committee hearing on the bill set for May 23.

“This bill is a product of an extensive and transparent process, which included soliciting feedback from members of both political parties, stakeholder input from across the nation, and some tough conversations,” Thompson said in a statement.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the farm bill “is an omnibus, multiyear law that sets the stage for the nation’s food and farm systems.

“It includes multiple titles, or sections, that intersect policy areas including conservation, rural energy development, nutrition assistance and aid to new and beginning farmers and ranchers.”

Per the Congressional Research Service, that bill spans multiple years and “governs an array of agricultural and food programs. It provides an opportunity for policymakers to comprehensively and periodically address agricultural and food issues.”

The bill, per the CRS, typically focuses on “farm commodity program support for a handful of staple commodities- corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, peanuts, dairy, and sugar.”

“Each title of this farm bill reflects a commitment to the American farmer and viable pathways to funding those commitments,” Thompson said, “and is equally responsive to the politics of the 118th Congress.

Thompson said he is hoping for “unanimous support in this endeavor to bring stability to producers, protect our nation’s food security, and revitalize rural America.”

This isn’t the only version of the Farm Bill currently working through Congress, though.

Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman highlighted the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, the Democratic version of the Farm Bill unveiled in the Senate .

“The programs outlined in this package will be huge for Pennsylvania, our 50,000 farms, our more than seven million acres of farmland, and the hardworking producers that power our robust agriculture business,” Fetterman said. “Farmers in Pennsylvania use these popular programs to support their families and keep their businesses afloat.”

He specifically highlighted that the Senate bill holds the line on programs like SNAP and Thrifty Food Plan.

Like any bill, the differences between the two will need to be negotiated before the final Farm Bill heads to the White House.

That’s going to take some work.

Thompson told Politico that there is some “common ground” between the two proposals but said that the Senate version “doesn’t appear to include GOP input or reflect the highest priorities we have heard loud and clear from American farmers.”

Thompson also told Politico that he has concerns about the funding model in the Democratic proposal.


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