Farm policy updates from Washington, D.C.

March 1, 2022
Will Stafford, CHS Washington representative, discusses farm policy changes that will be considered by Congress this year, including the next farm bill.

The 2023 Farm Bill is just one piece of legislation policymakers are discussing. Several other initiatives will affect decisions on U.S. farms and ranches.

Even though the current farm bill doesn’t expire for more than a year, legislators are strategizing about how to approach the bill’s next iteration, says Will Stafford, CHS Washington representative.

“Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are starting to discuss how they want to approach the next farm bill,” he explains. “The current farm bill expires at the end of September 2023. If the committees follow timelines of the past, they’re going to have to start holding hearings in the next few months, both outside and inside Washington, to determine ag group priorities and hear what farmers want to see changed in the next farm bill.

“Unlike some past farm bills, I doubt we’re going to see major changes to the farm policy areas of the bill. We may see some tweaks or smaller changes to make programs work better for constituents,” says Stafford.

Growing Climate Solutions Act support

The Growing Climate Solutions Act passed the Senate last summer with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, but there’s been no movement on the House side yet, says Stafford.

“The bill is still stuck in the House Agriculture Committee,” he notes. “This is a bill that CHS supports and we feel it helps open up carbon markets for farmers and ranchers to participate in, while breaking down some of the barriers that may prohibit them from doing so. Our hope is the bill will get through the House and be signed into law by the end of this year.”

Renewable fuels and waterways policies

Farmers also should pay attention to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, Stafford says. “After 2022, it will no longer be up to Congress to set blending levels for renewable fuels. It will be up to the Administration to set them unless Congress steps in.

“Another area we’re watching is the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill, which needs to be reauthorized this year,” he continues. “It provides funding and authorization for infrastructure projects on U.S. inland waterways — ports, bridges, dams, etc. — to make sure commodities can get to ports and abroad quickly.”