Ag Committee leaders release dueling Farm Bill proposals

Legislative Watch: House bill includes a provision stopping states from regulating livestock production outside their borders; USDA trade mission aims to open India to American goods.

Eric Bohl

May 3, 2024

2 Min Read
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Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees released competing summaries of their new five-year farm bill proposals this week. House Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Penn.) led by unveiling a five-page “high-level summary” of his plans. Just hours later, Senate Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) issued her own far more detailed plan with a 94-page section-by-section review.

The House version focuses on increasing support for the farm safety net and includes a provision stopping states from regulating livestock production outside their borders. The Senate bill would provide more modest boosts for commodity programs and permanently authorize conservation programs. Both bills would bring Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding into the farm bill’s funding baseline, but the Senate version would require all IRA dollars to be used to combat climate change.

The proposals were met with mixed reactions from other lawmakers and the farming community. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member David Scott (D-Ga.) issued a statement opposing Thompson’s plan.

“Unfortunately, Republicans rejected [our] bipartisan approach in favor of a partisan bill with an untenable funding scheme,” he said. “By insisting on poison pill policies, Republicans have turned what could have been a genuinely bipartisan bill into a messaging exercise to appease their right flank that has no chance of becoming law.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane took Thompson’s side after reviewing both proposals.

“We are very pleased with the farm bill framework released by [Thompson],” said Lane. “Unfortunately, the Senate Agriculture Committee majority has failed to engage in the same level of outreach to real cattle producers, and their framework reflects that lack of producer input.”

Thompson has scheduled a full committee markup of his proposal for May 23. Stabenow said she does not currently plan to schedule a markup of her bill, but rather intends to use it as a starting place for discussions. 

USDA trade mission aims to open India to American goods

One of the Biden administration’s top trade officials led an agribusiness delegation to India in late April to build agricultural trade ties. USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor led a delegation of officials from 47 U.S. agribusinesses and 11 state agriculture departments to New Delhi, India.

USDA said India’s recent reductions of agricultural tariffs have made increased trade between the two nations more promising. These reductions targeted a variety of U.S. agricultural products, including poultry, vegetables, fruits, pulses and tree nuts.

“As the world’s most-populous country and fifth-largest economy, India is primed for continued growth as a top destination for U.S. food and agriculture products,” Taylor said. “With a growing middle class that’s expected to exceed 660 million by 2030, India presents a strong consumer-oriented market where exports from American agribusinesses and producers can flourish.” 

About the Author(s)

Eric Bohl

Eric Bohl is an agricultural policy leader with extensive experience on Capitol Hill. He served six years as Chief of Staff to Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and previously served as Legislative Director to Rep. Hartzler. During that time, he led her work on the House Agriculture Committee and was influential in efforts to craft the 2014 Farm Bill, as well as handling environmental, energy, transportation and infrastructure, and agricultural trade issues.

Eric’s experience starts at the ground level. His family has deep roots in both animal and row-crop farming going back several generations. This understanding of the unique challenges real farmers face brings valuable perspective to help solve clients’ needs. His midwestern values also allow him to build meaningful relationships with people on both sides of the political aisle and find common-sense solutions that transcend partisan lines.

This approach has continued to be the cornerstone of Eric’s career in grassroots advocacy. He served more than five years as Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy for Missouri Farm Bureau. He was a senior member of the organization’s legislative team and led communications and coalition advocacy efforts, including on the 2018 Farm Bill. His writings on agriculture and rural policy have been published in newspapers across the nation. He serves as First Vice President of the St. Louis Agribusiness Club and is a board member of the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City, two of the nation’s largest and strongest organizations supporting agribusinesses.

Before his career in public policy, Eric was a practicing attorney for nearly five years, focusing on real estate and agricultural law, commercial transactions, and commercial litigation. Eric earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri, graduating from both programs with honors, and served as the Managing Editor of the Missouri Law Review.

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