Roll out the pumpkin spice lattes, blanket weather, and football naps—it’s farm bill season!
Welllllll, they don’t exactly tie together, but conversations are starting now regarding the next farm bill—and while we likely need to wait until midterm elections are concluded to really dig deep, topics of discussion are already hitting the shovel.
Surfacing climate change: With the five-year deadline to reauthorize the farm bill looming, a big topic of discussion centers on climate change.
Modifications on climate change policies within a farm bill would categorize it as revolutionary: one where Congress makes major changes that go against previous bills and push policies in a new direction.
The topic hits a nerve on both sides of the aisle, especially with the recent passing of the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, both of which include billions of dollars for climate initiatives.
What ag is saying: Groups like the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) say they want the he said, she said to cover these topics:
- Expanded funding for local and regional food processing
- Water quality improvement incentive programs
- Increased federal nutrition and food assistance
- Reliable natural disaster assistance
Disaster coverage: Speaking of disaster assistance, an important chunk of the farm bill covers safety nets for farmers and ranchers who experience loss due to disasters.
In 2021, farmers and ranchers experienced more than $12.5B in crop and rangeland losses because of natural disasters like drought, wildfires, hurricanes, derechos, freezes, and floods.
Here’s the kicker: $6.5B of that wasn’t covered by Risk Management Agency (RMA) programs, signaling the need to include other programs in the farm bill.
Where this goes: We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the midterm elections. Until then, we’ll take a nap.