Speaker drama puts farm bill in jeopardy

Legislative Watch: 2018 farm bill expired Sept. 30; continuing resolution reauthorizes animal drug laws for 5 years; ag committee seeks to increase beginning farmer loans.

Eric Bohl

October 6, 2023

3 Min Read
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This week’s events on Capitol Hill may have further reduced the chances of a farm bill moving through Congress in 2023. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Penn.) voiced frustration in the wake of Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) ouster as Speaker of the House.

“The agitators and the Democrats rule the day,” Thompson told Roll Call. “In a mutual way, they’ve really blown up any meaningful legislation. I don’t know how you get a speaker with that coalition. Without a speaker, you can’t do anything.”

Thompson also expressed concern that even an extension of the current farm bill may not be able to pass the House given its current divisions and distractions. Just weeks ago, he was publicly stating his desire to advance a farm bill to the House floor by the end of the year. Removing the Speaker added a new twist to the timeline. The House must now elect a new Speaker before returning to any legislation, including the 12 appropriations bills that must still become law by mid-November.

The 2018 farm bill expired on Sept. 30. According to most analysts, Congress can get by for several more months without either enacting a new bill or passing a formal extension. However, some longtime ag leaders, such as Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), have begun to speculate that a one-year or even two-year extension may be necessary if the matter is not resolved soon.

Continuing resolution reauthorizes animal drug laws for five years

When Congress voted last weekend to extend government funding by 45 days, it tied in language reauthorizing another set of statutes that were set to expire September 30. The Animal Drug User Fee Act and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act received a five-year reauthorization in the bill, extending their provisions through 2028. 

ADUFA and AGDUFA govern the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of animal drug approvals. FDA and the animal feed industry had supported a change to the bills that would allow non-drug feed additives to follow a new approval pathway. The proposal, known as the Innovative Feed Enhancement and Economic Development Act, or “Innovative FEED Act,” was approved 19-2 in a Senate committee but did not make it into the final bill.

Supporters of the Innovative FEED Act are exploring other legislative vehicles to enact the changes later this year. Lead sponsors Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) have touted the legislation as a way to speed up innovation in animal feed additives and create environmental benefits through better technology.

Ag committee members seek to increase beginning farmer loans 

Two members of the House Agriculture Committee have introduced a bill to increase the limits on the Farm Service Agency’s ownership and operating loans. The bill is a joint effort by Minnesota Reps. Brad Finstad (R) and Angie Craig (D). The Producer and Agricultural Credit Enhancement Act, H.R. 5631, would increase FSA Guaranteed Operating Loans from $2.04 million to $3 million, increase Guaranteed Ownership Loans from $2.04 million to $3.5 million, increase Direct Operating Loans from $400,000 to $750,000, and increase Direct Ownership Loans from $600,000 to $850,000.

 In a press release accompanying introduction of the bill, Finstad said, “FSA’s current loan limitations have failed to keep up with the rising land and input costs that have created a highly leveraged financial environment in farm country. I am proud to work with Rep. Craig to introduce the Producer and Agricultural Credit Enhancement Act, which will make it easier for producers, especially beginning farmers, to obtain the loans needed to maintain and improve their operations as they work to feed and fuel the world.”

Rep. Craig said, “I’m working across the aisle with Rep. Finstad to help give Minnesota family farmers the tools they need to operate through challenging times – like periods of low commodity prices and extreme weather events. We’re pushing to pass our bipartisan legislation to give them the flexibility they need.”

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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