House to consider farm bill in May

Legislative Watch: Increased funding for commodity programs; Senators introduce bill to boost crop insurance; USDA opens competition for trade promotion funding.

Eric Bohl

April 12, 2024

2 Min Read
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On Tuesday night, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Penn.) confirmed he plans to introduce a farm bill and consider it in committee before Memorial Day. In an interview with Agri-Pulse, Thompson said his draft bill will increase funding for commodity programs and crop insurance. He did not detail exactly what the changes will be or how they will be paid for.

Thompson also said he intends to adjust the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to rein in USDA’s ability to unilaterally increase spending through its Thrifty Food Plan powers. Democrats have strongly objected to previous proposals to change this program and may withhold support from the draft bill unless it is revised.

Senate Republicans and Democrats remain at a stalemate in the drafting process for the next farm bill. Disputes over funding have placed the two sides at odds for months, and some senators have expressed their preference to wait until after the November election to work on the bill. Absent an extension, the current bill expires Sept. 30.

Senators introduce bill to boost crop insurance

This week, a senator who is influential in agriculture policy unveiled his plan to increase crop insurance coverage in the next farm bill. Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.), a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, is proposing to increase premium subsidies to make 85% coverage more affordable for farmers.

According to Hoeven, his plan would cost approximately $4.1 billion over 10 years. This represents only about a 4% increase in crop insurance funding and less than 1.5% of all non-nutrition funding in the farm bill.

Hoeven’s bill, called the Federal Agriculture Risk Management Enhancement and Resilience (FARMER) Act, is cosponsored by Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman (R-Ark.) and five other Republican members of the committee. Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) issued her own proposal to boost crop support several months ago.

USDA opens competition for trade promotion funding

USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service is now accepting applications for five programs that seek to expand foreign markets for agricultural goods. The Market Access Program, Foreign Market Development Program, Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program, Quality Samples Program and Emerging Markets Program are all open for eligible applicants through June 14.

Combined, the programs will award $254 million to eligible applicants. The Market Access Program is the largest of the five, directing $200 million to “foster expanded exports and market diversification by encouraging the development, maintenance, and expansion of diverse commercial export markets for United States agricultural commodities and products.”

Other efforts provide technical support to U.S. farmers and businesses looking to export commodities. For example, the Quality Samples Program helps provide samples of products to potential importers and the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program addresses sanitary, phytosanitary, and technical barriers for exporters.

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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