Farm Bill passes House Agriculture Committee

Legislative Watch: Bipartisanship surprised many observers; USDA announces first round of export promotion funding.

Eric Bohl

May 24, 2024

3 Min Read
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After over 13 hours of speeches and debate, the House Agriculture Committee voted early Friday morning to approve a five-year farm bill, known as the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024. The final vote was 33 to 21, with four Democrats crossing party lines to join all Republicans on the panel. This display of bipartisanship surprised many observers, who had largely predicted both sides to vote as blocs.

Members of the committee used the first six hours for opening statements, pushing substantive debate late into the evening. Significant disagreements arose over conservation and nutrition funding, and a late-night argument regarding child labor raised tempers and threatened to derail the proceedings.

In his opening statement, Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Penn.) said, “A farm bill has long been an example of consensus, where both sides must take a step off the soapbox and have tough conversations. I do not draw red lines; I do not close the door to conversation. I could not have been clearer throughout this process that I was willing to work with each one of you to find a pathway forward on this bill.”

Despite these sentiments, Thompson told Agri-Pulse during a break in the proceedings that he does not see a path forward for the bill on the House floor until at least September. He pledged to work with his counterparts in the Senate to develop a consensus bill that can become law this year.

Ranking Member David Scott (D-Ga.) took a firm stance against Thompson’s bill, often speaking out against its provisions during debate.

“Today we are marking up a farm bill that undermines and hurts both our farmers and our American families,” Scott said. “When my Republican friends are ready to return to the path of bipartisanship, which is the only path that leads to a successful farm bill, we Democrats will be there waiting for them to join with us Democrats hand-in-hand and arm-in-arm.”

USDA announces first round of export promotion funding

This week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the first $300 million in funding for its new Regional Agricultural Promotion Program. Awards are being made to 66 organizations like cooperatives, state departments of agriculture and agricultural commodity groups. The new program will be functionally similar to the Trump administration’s Agricultural Trade Promotion program.

RAPP was developed in response to a request by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-Ark.) to boost existing trade promotion programs. USDA announced last September that it plans to spend $1.2 billion over the next five years from the CCC, a USDA fund established in 1933 to promote commodities and markets for agricultural goods. 

“USDA and the entire Biden-Harris Administration are focused on creating more, new and better markets for U.S. producers and agribusinesses, and exports are a critical part of that effort,” Vilsack said. “By enabling U.S. exporters to expand their footprint in diverse and dynamic new markets, RAPP will help make them more competitive and resilient in an increasingly volatile global trading environment. We know the potential is out there, but it takes time and money to grow new markets.”

Recipients include national organizations such as the U.S. Meat Export Federation, U.S. Dairy Export Council and American Soybean Association, as well as many state-level marketing and promotion boards like the California Cherry Marketing and Research Board and the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin.

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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