Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice
After over two weeks with no House Leader, the GOP dropped Jim Jordan as the speaker nominee and placed Representative Austin Scott back in the race, further delaying the progress of the 2023 Farm Bill. Congressman David Valadao explained in an email that while funding for many farm bill programs with mandatory spending is not impacted by the delay, the timing of the legislation is tied to the outcome of appropriations, availability of floor time, and the Speaker race.
“Passing a Farm Bill is one of the many items Congress cannot do until we have a Speaker,” Valadao said. “We need to get back to work so we can ensure the Central Valley has the resources we need to continue growing the food that feeds the nation and much of the world.”
However, even if a new speaker is elected to resume work on legislation, the farm bill could face further delays due to political dissension, mainly involving the controversial Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
On Oct. 23, every Democratic member of the House Agriculture Committee signed a letter petitioning Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson to reject cuts to the Inflation Reduction Act through the farm bill. The House members explained that the IRA money was “intended to go towards climate-smart conservation, and it would ultimately be a disservice to American farmers should these funds go elsewhere.”
Committee leaders are aiming to deliver a final negotiated bill by Dec. 31, as missing that deadline would likely send farm bill programs back to operational practices of the 1940s, Roll Call reported.
However, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack explained that an extension is the most likely outcome, which could span from a couple of months to a year. The legislation’s future remains dependent on a House Speaker and a completed federal budget.
“First, you got to have a speaker, then you have to have a budget, and then you have to have a farm bill,” Vilsack said. “Right now, we don’t have a speaker, we don’t have a budget, and we don’t have a farm bill.”