House Ag Committee Advances Farm Bill

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The House Agriculture Committee has advanced its version of the Farm Bill, also known as The Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024 (HB 8467), but not without some major disagreements between Republicans and Democrats.

The bill passed out of the committee 33-21 with four votes from Democrat lawmakers: Representatives Eric Sorensen (D-IL), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Don Davis (D-NC), and Yadira Caraveo (D-CO).

Markup Debate

The markup session highlighted some of the political differences over a general framework that Committee Chair Glenn GT Thompson has offered.

Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT) said the House bill does not include her party’s priorities.

“I think any one of us would have loved to have the opportunity to at least get one or two of our priorities in and that’s what we are asking for and that is what we are working for,” she said. “I too had a field hearing in my district and many of the things that my constituents talked about are not included in here.”

Representative Kat Cammack of Florida didn’t mince words with her response to Hayes and other Democrats, who argued that the bill is partisan.

“Now, as we all know, facts don’t care about feelings. So here are some facts. This bill in the base text includes over forty Democrat led initiatives. Forty! And of those forty initiatives, they were specific asks from Democrat members on this committee, the very same members who are claiming that this bill is a wholly partisan undertaking,” she said. “To say that this is not a bipartisan bill when you know full well that this bill includes your requested priorities, well, back home, we call that chicken [expletive]!”

Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts criticized the draft legislation, including its funding mechanisms that could take money away from nutrition programs.

“We have Republican staffers, apparently telling reporters that my colleagues and I are hunger weirdos! I mean, what the hell is wrong with you guys? I mean, really, hunger weirdos? Are you kidding me? We’re weird for thinking it’s wrong for people in this country to go without food,” McGovern said. “Guess what? I think it’s weird that a single American goes hungry! I think it’s weird in the richest country in the history of the world that we have people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from! And I think it’s weird that we have hungry veterans and hungry seniors and hungry kids. And yeah, I think making it harder for people to eat is weird!”

Thompson defended his funding proposals regarding nutrition spending.

“I will say that the savings that CBO has identified that we’ve reinvested back into the farm bill quite frankly do not cut during the course of this five years of this farm bill any individual or family snap benefits. There’s rhetoric on the outside that is amplifying that for their own purposes, but it’s just not true,” he said.

Ag Groups Respond

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) supports the House Farm Bill, which includes a federal fix to California’s Prop. 12 issues that affect pork producers.

“The 2024 Farm Bill is a golden opportunity to address a top issue for pork producers across the country – California Prop. 12 – and I’m pleased to see the U.S. House Agriculture Committee seize the opportunity to stop a potential 50-state patchwork of differing on-farm regulations,” said NPPC President Lori Stevermer, a pork producer from Easton, Minn.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew issued the following statement after the passage of the bill out of the House Agriculture Committee.

“A successful farm bill needs broad bipartisan support. We applaud today’s progress, but we know that significant improvements will be needed to advance this bill. H.R. 8467 includes a number of Farmers Union priorities, but those positive steps can’t come at the cost of the broad support that’s needed to pass a bill on the House floor. “

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) thanked the House Agriculture Committee for approving the next Farm Bill, and said it includes top priorities for cattle farmers and ranchers including cattle health, voluntary conservation, and food security provisions.

NCBA President and Wyoming rancher Mark Eisele said in the statement, “This Farm Bill protects the cattle industry from foreign animal disease, supports producers’ voluntary conservation efforts, and safeguards our food supply, recognizing that our food security is national security.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a statement, “We applaud the bipartisan vote after 13 hours of rigorous debate but know that tight margins in both chambers and a crowded congressional calendar will present challenges in the next legislative steps. We urge House leaders to continue the momentum and bring this important legislation to a vote on the floor.”

What’s next?

The House version of the Farm Bill will now head to the full chamber for consideration. The Senate also released its version of the Farm Bill but has not set a markup date.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement following the vote by the House Ag Committee to advance their version of the 2024 Farm Bill:

“Despite areas of common ground, it is now clear that key parts of the House bill split the Farm Bill coalition in a way that makes it impossible to achieve the votes to become law.  And it is also clear that we do not have time to waste on proposals that cannot meet that goal.”