The House Agriculture Committee passed the $16.1 billion agriculture and nutrition provisions of the budget reconciliation legislation which moves forward President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. It passed on a party-line 25-23 vote with Republicans complaining that they had been left out of the process.
The legislation addresses the “long standing and widespread discrimination against socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers” regarding USDA’s farm loan programs by providing debt relief and assistance for Black farmers and other minority farmers. Republicans suggest the debt relief provisions could be unconstitutional and face legal challenges.
A majority of the funding increases support for nutrition programs. It also provides additional funding for protective equipment investments for farm and food workers, assists small meat and poultry processers with overtime inspection costs and expands USDA’s surveillance of COVID-19 and animals.
A committee summary of key provisions include:
- $1 billion in assistance to and support for community-based organizations and 1890 land grant and other minority-serving institutions that work with Black farmers and other farmers of color on land access, financial training, heirs property issues, training the next generation and access to education
- Farm loan assistance for Black farmers and other farmers of color
- Extending 15% SNAP benefit increases through September 30, 2021
- $37 million to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to fill a gap that has grown as food for this program has become scarcer during the pandemic
- $500 million in Community Facility Program funds to help rural hospitals and local communities broaden access to COVID-19 vaccines & food assistance
- $3.6 billion for the secretary of agriculture to continue to help the food and ag sector supply chains
- $100 million in overtime fee relief to small meat and poultry processors currently grappling with COVID-19-related backlogs
- $800 million for the Food for Peace program, including for purchases of U.S.-grown crops used in international humanitarian aid.
The legislation recognizes the growing concern of coronavirus and animals. It provides $300 million for USDA to increase surveillance of COVID-19 in animals.
2021 farm income to decrease
Even with higher prices forecast for 2021, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) is estimating a decrease in farm income because of the significant drop in government payments this year.
ERS is estimating 2021 net farm income, a broad measure of profits, at $111.4 billion, a decrease of $9.8 billion or 8.1%. Net cash farm income, an indication of producer cash flow, is estimated to drop $7.9 billion, or 5.8%, to $128.3 billion. Both income measures are still above the 20-year average.
Other forecasts include:
- Direct government payments are forecast at $25.3 billion, a decrease of $21 billion or 45.3% from 2020.
- Total production expenses are forecast at $353.7 billion or an increase of $8.6 billion (2.5%).
- Soybeans receipts for 2021 are estimated to increase $9.4 billion (24.3%) because of increased prices and quantities sold.
- Corn receipts are forecast to increase $6.7 billion (14%) because of increased prices and quantities sold.
- Wheat receipts are forecast to increase $0.2 billion (2.2%) with a slight increase in price and quantities sold.
- Animal and animal products cash receipts are estimated at $175 billion for 2021, an increase of $8.6 billion (5.2%). This is due to an increase in receipts for cattle and calves, hogs, and broilers. Milk and chicken eggs receipts are expected to decline.
- Feed costs are forecast to increase $1.9 billion, or 3.2% increase.
House Ag Subcommittee chairs & ranking members
The chairs and ranking members of the House Agriculture Committees were named by Congressmen David Scott, D-Ga., chairman, and Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee.
- General Farm Commodities and Risk Management – Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., chair, and Austin Scott, R-Ga., ranking member.
- Livestock and Foreign Agriculture – Jim Costa, D-Cali., chair, and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., ranking member.
- Conservation and Forestry – Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., chair, and Doug LaMalfa, R-Cali., ranking member.
- Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations – Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., chair, and Don Bacon, R-Neb., ranking member
- Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit – Antonio Delgado, D-N.Y., chair, and Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., ranking member.
- Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research – Stacey Plaskett, D-U.S. Virgin Islands, chair, and Jim Baird, R-Ind., ranking member.
House Ag Committee Democrat members named
The House Agriculture Committee will have five new Democrat members. The new members are Representatives Bobby Rush (Ill.), Gregorio Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands), Annie Kuster (N.H.), Ro Khanna (Cali.), and Lou Correa (Cali.). Kuster previously served on the committee.
The 24 Democrat members on the committee are Representatives David Scott (Ga.), Chairman, Jim Costa (Cali.), Filemon Vela (TX), Alma Adams (N.C.), Vice-Chair, Abigail Spanberger (Va.), Jahana Hayes (Conn.), Antonio Delgado (N.Y.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), Chellie Pingree (ME), Gregorio Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands), Annie Kuster (N.H.), Cheri Bustos (Ill.), Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), Stacey Plaskett (U.S. Virgin Islands), Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.), Salud Carbajal (Cali.), Ro Khanna (Cali.), Al Larson (Fla.), Luis Correa (Cali.), Angie Craig (Minn.), Josh Harder (Cali.), Cindy Axne (IA), Kim Schrier (Wash.), and Jimmy Panetta (Cali.).
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