What’s Next for the Farm Bill?

September 21, 2022
Will Stafford, CHS Washington representative, provides a farm policy update and discusses how mid-term elections could influence the next Farm Bill.  

With the current Farm Bill set to expire in September 2023, U.S. Senate and House Agriculture committees have been busy conducting listening sessions and hearings nationwide to gather information for drafting new legislation. Will Stafford, CHS Washington representative, says mid-term elections could play a pivotal role in the details of the next Farm Bill.

Common themes from Farm Bill input sessions

Farmers and ranchers are anticipating a new Farm Bill that includes provisions for crop insurance programs. “Ranchers and farmers want to ensure that crop insurance programs are fully operational and funded appropriately,” says Stafford. “These programs are critical for risk management.”

While updates to the current Farm Bill are still unclear, Stafford says the Inflation Reduction Act passed in August provides support for some new provisions. “The Inflation Reduction Act includes about $20 billion worth of budget increases for conservation programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program and Regional Conservation Partnership Program. That should add more money to the budget baseline, to increase the likelihood that the bill gets finished next year,” says Stafford.

Next steps in the legislative process

Congressional Agriculture committees will continue to listen to stakeholders in sessions around the country and hold hearings in Washington, D.C., on title-specific issues, such as crop insurance, horticulture, trade and energy. From there, the committees will start the drafting process to introduce new bills. “After committee members draft their bills, there’s a markup process that includes amendments and more discussion. After that, they’ll vote it out of committee and hopefully get a bill passed,” Stafford explains.

Mid-term elections could influence Farm Bill outcomes

“Whoever holds the gavels on the Senate and House Agriculture committees will influence the new Farm Bill,” says Stafford. With Democrats currently in control of both the House and Senate, any mid-term election changes could sway policy priorities.

“We may see a shift from nutrition policy, for example, to more basic agricultural policy, like crop insurance and commodity programs,” says Stafford. “There may also be geographic shifts, such as southern U.S. crops versus Midwestern crops, a focus on forestry from southern states or perhaps dairy policy at the forefront. It still takes 60 votes to get a bill passed in the Senate, so bipartisan support will be required to get a bill passed.”