BY TIMOTHY EGGERT
A bloc of more than 400 state and national ag groups is calling on the U.S. House and Senate budget committees to allocate “sufficient budgetary resources” to draft the 2023 farm bill.
The groups, which include Illinois Farm Bureau, made their appeal in a letter sent March 14 to the budget committees’ respective chairs and ranking members.
Citing the “many pressures” on the federal budget and on the “U.S. farmers and others throughout the agricultural supply chain,” the groups said they support providing the House and Senate agriculture committees with “sufficient budgetary resources to write a new bipartisan, multi-year, comprehensive, and meaningful piece of legislation.”
While Republicans in the House are aiming to pass massive cuts in federal spending on various programs, bipartisan agreement on a budget resolution for fiscal year 2024 is not likely.
The House Agriculture Committee, meanwhile, on March 9 approved a letter sent to the House Budget Committee, calling for lawmakers to provide “adequate resources” in the upcoming farm bill to make up for the “ineffectiveness” of existing commodity and farm safety net programs.
The ag groups’ letter takes a similar tone, pointing to elevated costs for production inputs as a stressor of federal ag policy, one that is projected to continue through the 2023 growing season and bring down net cash farm income.
Those estimates, the groups said, often result in calls for ad-hoc or supplemental disaster assistance for farmers and ranchers that fall out of the farm bill.
“Ad-hoc assistance is necessary in times of need but is not a timely, reliable, or predictable safety net for farmers and ranchers,” the letter reads. “The upcoming farm bill reauthorization provides an opportunity to address very real needs in agriculture and rely less on off-budget ad hoc assistance.”
The letter also says the “geopolitical volatility” around and “rising tensions” with China “underscore the need in the next farm bill for a more meaningful, predictable farm safety net and the need to invest more into trade promotion programs to help diversify agricultural markets.”
The groups further note the war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, disruptions in the supply chain as well as “non-tariff trade barriers erected by multiple countries, and devastating natural disasters have tested the effectiveness of current farm policy.”
And the groups call for funding to fill gaps in crop insurance, conservation, rural development, food security and research programs.
“Sufficient budgetary resources will be needed to craft a new bipartisan, multi-year, comprehensive, and meaningful piece of legislation,” the letter concludes. “As you work to build the federal budget for fiscal year 2024, we seek your support for providing sufficient resources to the committees to craft the next farm bill.”
This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.