With Kevin McCarthy ousted last week as Speaker of the House and representatives returning from their brief recess, the chaos on Capitol Hill has impacted the development of the next farm bill.
“Well, it’s certainly not desirable to have these kinds of machinations going on. It’s just not helpful.”
That’s Ted McKinney, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
“This moment in time, it is not helping the farm bill and moving it along at all. We have forces—certainly there are forces against it coming along yet this year or maybe even pushing it off a little bit into next year. Those forces are there. But you have got to remember that there are also forces in place to getting it done.”
He says farm bill discussions should quickly pick up in the House once a new Speaker is in place.
“The House Ag Chair and even former Speaker McCarthy have all said this is the one major bill that they think they have to get done. There has been a lot of groundwork laid by both parties in both the Senate and the House, so I’m not ready to fall down and put my hands to my head and cry in despair. I think that’s where maturity and level heads need to prevail.”
Overall, McKinney says he’s optimistic that Republican House members will put aside their political infighting and that Congress can work together to bring about a farm bill that best serves the needs of the ag industry.
“I’m probably the minority on this, but lots of times after very dark points in time—and I would say that removing the House Speakership is a pretty dark point—after those points in time, you see a rebound because there’s a quick and immediate recognition that the Congress has to the demonstrate to their taxpayers and their electorate that they can care, they do care, and they have to get something done. Maybe, just maybe, the farm bill can be part of that.”
A new farm bill has yet to be introduced with the previous farm bill expiring on Sept. 30, but funding levels from that 2018 farm bill extended through Nov. 17.