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Clock Ticking on Farm Bill


Farm Bill

Zippy Duvall


photo credit: Colorado Farm Bureau, Used with Permission

Believe it or not, we are nearly halfway through this year. Halfway points are a great time to check progress as we look to the rest of the journey. We may be encouraged to see were on track or even ahead of where we hoped to be. Sometimes though, we are lagging and can see its time to pick up the pace to reach the finish line. When it comes to the 2024 farm bill, we are at one of those critical points, and if were going to reach the finish line, its time for Congress to pick up the pace.

Recently, we hit some important mile markers. Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have released outlines of their plans for a new farm bill. At Farm Bureau, we were encouraged to see both proposals acknowledge the need for a greater investment in the risk management programs farmers and ranchers across the country rely on as we face falling prices and increased inflation. Both proposals also recognize the important role farmers and ranchers play in protecting our land, water and air through voluntary, working lands conservation programs. But there is still a lot of work to do, and details to sort out. And thats what we expect with any major bill that Congress needs to craft and debate and ultimately pass. With the summer months and campaign season in sight, though, there is no time to lose.

The farm bill matters for everyone—on and off the farm.

Next week, the House Ag Committee is scheduled to mark up their version of the bill. What we need now is for the Senate to schedule a markup as well so that text can be made public. We need draft bills from both committees if were going to see real progress in getting a modernized farm bill passed before the extension expires in September.

Why is it so urgent for Congress to get the farm bill across the finish line? Because all Americans are impacted by this critical legislation. The farm bill matters for everyone—on and off the farm. Managing risk on the farm is critical to keeping food on all our tables. In times of high inflation and global unrest, it becomes even more clear that food security is critical to our national security. All Americans are counting on farmers and ranchers to keep growing food, fiber and fuel in all seasons. And farmers and ranchers count on strong programs in the farm bill to help them hold on when life hits with pressures and storms beyond their control.

For all that the farm bill provides, altogether it is roughly 2% of all federal spending. Within that small slice, farm programs—including research, conservation and risk management—make up only three tenths of one percent of the federal budget. Slice it down even further, and crop insurance is just one tenth of a percent of federal spending. For a deeper dive on the significant return on investment that crop insurance provides, at a cost of less than two and a half dollars a month for each American, check out this Market Intel report. Whats more, that cost has remained relatively stable over the last 15 years. Dont tell me that farmers dont know how to stretch a dollar! But with inflation on the rise, commodity prices dropping, and labor costs skyrocketing, its nearly impossible for many small- and medium-sized family farms to stay afloat when times get tough.

The farm bill isnt the only tool to ensure the long-term sustainability, and survival, of our family farms and ranches, but it is an essential one. As we look at the stretch ahead for Congress to get a new farm bill across the finish line this year, let'skeep joining together and calling on our lawmakers to deliver a farm bill for all Americans.