Thompson continues farm bill push after successful committee vote

Legislative Watch: Ways and Means holds jurisdiction over trade legislation; $850 million to battle animal disease threats; Voluntary carbon credit law.

Eric Bohl

May 31, 2024

3 Min Read

In the wake of last Friday’s bipartisan vote to pass a new farm bill out of the House Agriculture Committee, Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Penn.) spent this week making his case for the rest of Congress to advance the package.

On Wednesday, Thompson jointly authored an op-ed in The Hill with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) touting the pro-trade provisions of the bill. While the Agriculture Committee oversees programs that promote agriculture to foreign buyers, Ways and Means holds general jurisdiction over broader trade legislation.

“Policymakers in Congress must ensure we are doing everything in our power to support American farmers and ranchers, and be willing to go to bat for them globally,” the pair said. “The 2024 Farm Bill … does just that, by taking steps to open new markets to American grown and raised products.”

Thompson and Smith highlighted the draft farm bill’s doubling of funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program. They also touted recent efforts by Ways and Means to renew and reform Generalized System of Preferences laws. They argue these steps are crucial to combat the “unprecedented” $21 billion agricultural trade deficit that is projected to grow to $30.5 billion this year.

USDA announces nearly $850 million to battle animal disease threats

USDA announced this week it would spend $824 million in emergency funding from the Commodity Credit Corporation to combat ongoing concerns about highly pathogenic avian influenza in dairy cattle. In a press release, USDA said its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will use the funding to “support anticipated diagnostics, field response activities, pre-movement testing requirements, other necessary surveillance and control activities, surveillance in wildlife for APHIS, the Agricultural Research Service’s work in developing vaccines for HPAI in cattle, turkeys, pigs and goats, and ARS and the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s food safety studies.”

Earlier this month, APHIS announced it would award $22.2 million in funding “to enhance prevention, preparedness, early detection and rapid response to the most damaging diseases that threaten U.S. livestock.” The funding comes from the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, both of which were authorized in the 2018 farm bill.

Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs said, “Bolstering animal disease preparedness is crucial because these diseases devastate livestock and hardworking farmers whose animals are affected, and threaten America’s access to safe, healthy, affordable food. APHIS plays an important leadership role in protecting against current and future threats to U.S. animal health, and these investments are key to supporting this work.”

USDA moves to implement voluntary carbon credit law

On Tuesday, USDA announced it is taking additional steps toward implementation of the Growing Climate Solutions Act, passed in late 2022. The GCSA promotes voluntary carbon credit markets to stimulate carbon sequestration on farms and provide certainty and predictability for participants.

“High-integrity voluntary carbon markets offer a promising tool to create new revenue streams for producers and achieve greenhouse gas reductions from the agriculture and forest sectors,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “However, a variety of barriers have hindered agriculture’s participation in voluntary carbon markets and we are seeking to change that by establishing a new Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Program.”

According to USDA, the new program is designed to “facilitate better technical assistance by providing a list of qualified technical assistance providers and third-party verifiers who work with producers to generate credible carbon credits, enabling USDA to share trusted information and reduce market confusion.”

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) issued a statement supporting the decision.

“Addressing the climate crisis is one of the most urgent challenges we face, and our famers and foresters are an important part of that solution,” she said. “Voluntary carbon credit markets generate new revenue streams for farmers, foresters, and rural communities, and there is clear enthusiasm across private industry and the public sector to tap into that potential. This announcement will strengthen the integrity of these markets and build a foundation for the future. That is a win-win for farmers, the economy, and the environment.”

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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