Three farm, food, and hunger group leaders called on Congress on Wednesday to enact a new farm bill by early 2024, although there were few signs the legislation would be ready to go. “We’re focused on getting it done, and if it means by December, we will be proud of that, and if we get it out in the first quarter [of 2024], we will be proud of that,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Farm bill discussions were at an impasse over proposals for larger crop subsidy spending and whether to raid climate funds to pay for it. Looming beyond that were proposals to cut SNAP outlays, the issue that delayed enactment of the 2014 and 2018 farm bills.
Duvall, Leslie Sarasin of FMI, and Claire Babineaux-Fontenot of Feeding America said at a briefing that they supported a unified food and farm bill. Their organizations are members of the Farm Bill for America’s Families coalition. Babineaux-Fontenot decried a “myopic focus on hunger as the enemy” of fiscal prudence. Sarasin said Congress should pass the new farm bill “as soon as they can.”
House Speaker Mike Johnson created a stir by writing in a letter that the House might vote on the farm bill in December. But such a vote is not certain, and the top issue in the House at present is funding the government.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, like other officials, said a short-term extension of the 2018 farm law will be needed while Congress completes the new farm bill. “There’s no reason that can’t be done in early 2024 if there’s the will to get it done in Congress,” he said.