House Ag Democrats Double Down on Farm Bill Red Line

Sparks flew at the House Ag Committee as Democrats and Republicans stood their ground on farm bill differences, and USDA Secretary Vilsack defended his handling of existing programs.

Vilsack immediately came under election-year fire from Ag Chair GT Thompson.

“In what seemingly is a daily occurrence, taxpayer dollars are being sent to every corner of the country, yet nothing has changed. We’re not producing more fertilizer, we’re not reducing the cost of production, we’re not making food more affordable, however we are burdening the taxpayer. We are losing ground on the world stage and we are a net agricultural importer.” 

Vilsack had a different view.

“The last three-years of net cash farm income were record-setting, the best three-years in the last 50-years in this country, this year’s income projected at just below historical norms will make it the best four-years in recent history.” 

But Republicans argued farm income was down last year, while USDA data projects an even sharper drop on lower prices this year.

Vilsack jousted with Republicans on everything from grocery prices to SNAP cuts and echoed panel Democrats that the answer is not to pare SNAP and IRA climate dollars that boost farm income.

“Ag appropriations talked about an 18-percent cut to our budget, so you can do the math. Maintain the IRA funding, let’s get a budget, pass a farm bill so there’s certainty in terms of the programs.” 

But almost half-way through a one-year farm bill extension, Chair Thompson admitted the obvious.

“However, there remain significant headwinds to Congress’ success. It’s virtually impossible to create a robust farm safety net without significant investment.”

House Ag Democrats are doubling down on their “line in the sand” against repurposing climate and SNAP funds for farm programs.

House Ag top Democrat David Scott in an op-ed first published by Agri-Pulse, writes Republicans continue to push “objectionable offsets.” But maybe, Scott writes “reading our views in black and white in the press” will help them understand “no means no.”

“We stand united against any efforts to take food away from children, families, or any vulnerable American in this farm bill or any legislation.” 

Scott now argues that “raiding programs” backed by conservation, green energy and nutrition interests “does not achieve a bipartisan farm bill,” but “fractures” the urban-rural coalition needed to pass one.

And that has farm bill advocates concerned. American Farm Bureau’s Ryan Yates.

“I think you’re seeing lines in the sand…similar lines are being drawn in the Senate…that I think both sides are saying, here’s what we’re willing to do and here’s what we’re willing to give up—this is part of a process...and until those sides and those issues can be resolved, it will further delay action on a farm bill, unfortunately.”