US Capitol Building
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By Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice 

The Republican 2024 Farm Bill passed the U.S. House Agriculture Committee on May 24, despite limited Democratic support. After completing a markup on the 942-page bill, the committee passed the proposed legislation 33-21.  

Now, the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024 — the long-awaited farm bill — will be brought to the House Floor for consideration. In his opening statement before the markup, House Agriculture Committee Chair Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson explained the farm bill is a farm safety net for the “backbone” of the nation. 

“I firmly believe the legislation before us today restores a robust rural economy, invests in America’s farmers, ranchers, and foresters, and bolsters every facet of American agriculture,” Thompson said. “And having seen the widespread support from stakeholders across this country, I believe we have achieved that goal.” 

The new farm bill would increase specialty crop funding, increase farm safety net payments for certain commodities, and expand eligibility for disaster assistance. It also cuts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding by limiting future updates to the Thrifty Food Plan, resulting in opposition from Democratic legislators.  

Thompson explained that updates to the Thrifty Food Plan were cost-neutral for 40 years until President Joe Biden “unlawfully” updated the market basket to no longer be cost-neutral, resulting in the $256 billion increase to the farm bill baseline.  

“Republicans are holding USDA and the States who administer SNAP accountable to the American taxpayer,” Thompson said. 

In a press release, House Agriculture Committee Democrats ranking member David Scott explained that while the bill advanced out of the committee, it will not receive adequate Democratic support. 

“This bill may have advanced out of Committee, but it has no future. It does not have the Democratic support necessary to be brought to the House Floor. It will not become law,” Scott said. “There is still time for Republicans to come to their senses and strike a bipartisan compromise.” 

U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow released a farm bill proposal in May, but it is awaiting language from Republican legislators before moving forward. Contrary to the proposed House farm bill, the Senate proposal would increase eligibility for nutrition programs like SNAP. 

The 2024 Farm Bill will require strong bipartisan votes and collaboration to become law before the September 30, 2024, deadline. 


Along with work on the pending farm bill, the California State Assembly and Senate members are considering multiple agricultural bills. May 24 was the deadline for each house to pass bills before sending them along to the second house for consideration.  

The assembly passed several bills on pesticides and integrated pest management which will be considered by the Senate.  

One contested bill, AB 1963, passed the assembly on May 23. This bill would prohibit the use, manufacture, sale, delivery, holding, or offering for sale in commerce of any pesticide product containing paraquat. 

Introduced by Democratic Assemblymember Laura Friedman, AB 1963 would ban any use of paraquat in California fields and orchards by 2026.  

At the annual California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association conference, CCGGA president Roger Islom explained that the bill author’s arguments that paraquat is linked to Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and childhood leukemia are not based in science — especially as it is approved for use by regulatory agencies. 

AB 1963 was read for the first time in the Senate on May 24 — the third reading is the last step before it passes to the governor’s desk. 

Friedman also pushed another pesticide bill through assembly — AB 2552 — which would expand the definition of a wildlife habitat area and prohibit the use of two rodenticide pesticides within 2,500 feet of a wildlife habitat area. 

The California Chamber of Commerce originally opposed the bill until its revision in April which removed a stipulation that any person could commence a civil suit against those in violation. The new language states that the Attorney General, in the name of the people of the state or by request of certain departments or officials, may bring a lawsuit against a person in violation of the regulation. 

AB 2552 was read for the first time in the Senate on May 24. 

Another pesticide bill, AB 1864, was introduced by Democratic Assemblymember Damo Conolly to strengthen prior enforcement regarding the use of pesticides within one-fourth mile of a school site.  

AB 1864 would expand reporting requirements for pesticide use near school zones, including thorough documentation on the timing, notification, and method of application. The bill would also require county agricultural commissioners to collect public notifications before pesticides are applied and document which fields are sprayed. 

AB 1864 was read in the Senate for the first time on May 22.  

Assembly members also discussed bills on invasive species and integrated pest management. AB 2509, introduced by Democratic Assemblymember Ash Kalra, would define “integrated pest management” for the Food and Agricultural Code to mean “an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques, as provided.”  

AB 2509 would also define “invasive species” as any nonnative organisms that cause “or are likely to cause, economic or environmental harm, excluding humans, domestic livestock, specified domestic or domesticated species, and nonharmful nonnative organisms.”  

AB 2509 was read in the Senate for the first time on May 23. 

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