Big Differences in Competing Farm Bill Frameworks

The clock is running on getting a 2024 Farm Bill in place. Democrats and Republicans have offered competing frameworks with some similarities and many differences. Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) talks about the Democratic framework.

“I don’t think that they adequately address crop insurance. I don’t think that they adequately addressed the Title One funding, and something that very few people were talking about is that farmers would not be eligible for a lot of the classical conservation programs that we’ve been using. They put such stringent guardrails around those conservation programs that we weren’t able to use them. And even, you know, to take it a step further, they were putting air quality control issues that would have driven the Nebraska hog raiser out of business and the Kansas and Nebraska cattle raisers out of business as well. So, we needed to do some work on their conservation rules.”

Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is retiring at the end of this Congressional session. Marshall is worried that might lead to more slowdown in the process.

“I think her priorities were a little different for this farm bill. If you look at her bill, her framework, there’s a priority, seems to be, for all these green energy programs that, unfortunately, were pushing farmers out of control. So, I think, with all due respect, I think that hers was an attack on the American farmers as we know it, and beyond that, it didn’t help with the crop insurance or the Title One funding enough.”

He says the biggest component of the farm bill isn’t farming but the nutrition programs.

“The biggest component, of course, is the nutrition programs, and I want to point out that we were spending $60 billion a year with the last farm bill. We’re up to $120 billion, so we’ve doubled that. And as we go forward, the Republican framework is we don’t touch that. We make it whole, and I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done on those food programs all across the country. People are benefiting from those. So, the majority are those food programs. SNAP comes to mind, but we have food banks and all those things. We don’t cut a single dollar from SNAP in our program, and we improve the integrity, which Senator Stabenow probably didn’t touch on. But I’m afraid in 10 or 15 percent of the SNAP programs, there’s waste, fraud, and abuse, and there is in every government program like this. All in, we’re spending $180 billion a year on nutrition programs. About 120 of that is in the Farm Bill, so 85 percent of the Farm Bill are nutrition programs.”