House Ag Committee plans farm bill vote next week

Legislative Watch: Democrats not expected to support bill; U.S., Canada and Mexico unite over South American beef concerns; Plan for biotech regulations.

Eric Bohl

May 17, 2024

3 Min Read
Getty Images

Almost eight months after the previous farm bill expired, a Congressional committee is finally poised to take the first crack at a new version. On Thursday, May 23, the House Agriculture Committee has scheduled a “markup” of Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson’s (R-Penn.) draft bill. Thompson is expected to release the full text of his draft today.

Democrats on the committee are not expected to support the bill, which traditionally has been among the more bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill. This week, the committee’s lead Democrat, David Scott (D-Ga.), expressed frustration that Thompson’s draft would cut into climate funding and make changes to the nutrition title.

In a joint statement with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Scott said, “We need a farm bill that holds the coalition together and upholds the historic tradition of providing food assistance to our most vulnerable Americans while keeping our commitment to our farmers battling the effects of the climate crisis every day. Democrats remain ready and willing to work with Republicans on a truly bipartisan farm bill to keep farmers farming, families fed, and rural communities strong.”

If the bill survives its committee review, it will be eligible for consideration on the House floor. However, no plan or timeline has been announced for a vote by the full body. Absent agreement from a large proportion of House Democrats, the bill is unlikely to be successful on the floor.

U.S., Canada and Mexico unite over South American beef concerns

Three leading North American cattle advocacy groups joined forces this week on a letter raising concerns about Brazilian beef. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas and Canadian Cattle Association outlined their concerns to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and her Mexican and Canadian counterparts. They urge the trade negotiators to re-engage in opening markets for beef exports and provide stronger science-based oversight of beef imports.

“It is concerning that the lack of new market access for beef exports has been met with an expansion in new access for beef imports from other countries,” the letter said. “For example, Brazil and Paraguay gained access to the U.S. market, Brazil and Argentina were also given beef access to Mexico, and the United Kingdom gained beef access to Canada – but none of these actions have resulted in meaningful reciprocal trade for U.S., Mexican, or Canadian beef products. If this trajectory does not change, it will put North American producers at a tremendous disadvantage to our competitors.” 

American ranchers were particularly concerned about sanitary and phytosanitary issues with imports from Brazil.

NCBA President Mark Eisele, a rancher from Wyoming, said, “For the United States, we have significant concerns that Brazil continues to have access to the U.S. market even though they have a repeated history of failing to disclose animal health concerns, including cases of atypical BSE. We continue urging our respective governments to protect the beef supply by blocking Brazilian imports.”

Federal agencies outline streamlining plan for biotech regulations

Last week, USDA, EPA and FDA announced a new joint approach to streamline the regulation of genetically modified plants, animals and microorganisms. Among the three agencies, USDA takes the lead on regulation of plants, FDA oversees animals and EPA regulates plants that are engineered to protect themselves against pests. Their new joint plan is designed to be a “whole-of-government” approach to the regulation of biotechnology products.

The changes aim to reduce barriers to conducting scientific reviews of new products while ensuring public confidence in the biotechnology regulatory system. After conducting a thorough review of current regulations, the agencies identified five areas of focus moving forward: modified plants; modified animals; modified microorganisms; human drugs, biologics, and medical devices; and cross-cutting issues

The announcement was accompanied by a 16-page outline for how the agencies plan to proceed. This document, called the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology, “provides a roadmap for actions the agencies will take, individually and collaboratively, to improve regulatory clarity, streamline regulatory oversight, reduce regulatory redundancies and gaps, and increase regulatory coordination for specific product categories and across the Coordinated Framework.” The agencies plan to continue engaging with stakeholders as the plan is implemented.

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.

Subscribe to Our Newsletters
National Hog Farmer is the source for hog production, management and market news

You May Also Like