Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill sets up fight with House

Legislative Watch: Senate provides $1 billion more than House version; NPPC speaks out against "Product of USA" labeling; Crop Insurance for Future Farmer Act.

Eric Bohl

June 23, 2023

3 Min Read
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On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2024 agriculture appropriations bill. The legislation would fund USDA, FDA and dozens of other agencies related to food, agriculture and rural development.

The Senate bill provides just under $26 billion of funding, about $1 billion more than the House version. However, the House bill relies on clawing back $8 billion of unspent pandemic-era funds - a move that is dead on arrival in the Senate. This places the two chambers in a massive disagreement over the topline numbers that will have to be worked out before funding expires.

"We had to make tough decisions under an austere topline number. But I believe we have written a good bill that protects many of our priorities and continues our strong support for rural communities," said Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), who chairs the agriculture subcommittee. "This is a good, bipartisan bill. It reflects the type of work we can produce when we work in regular order on this committee. I encourage all members to vote for it."

NPPC speaks out against "Product of USA" labeling
The National Pork Producers Council submitted comments opposing the Biden administration's "Product of USA" labeling proposal. The rule would allow meat, poultry and egg products to be labeled "Product of USA" or "Made in the USA" only if it had been derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States.

In a statement, the council said, "NPPC fails to see a distinction between the 2009 (original) or 2013 (amended) MCOOL rule and the proposed rule, which, while billed as voluntary, will have the effect of being mandatory since it will create a strong incentive for producers to prefer domestic animals to imported ones so they can use the 'Product of USA' and 'Made in the USA' claims. The use of labels to identify the origin of meat and meat products is a normal condition of competition; therefore, to compete effectively, producers must use such labels."

USDA proposed the rule in March and was met with significant concerns about potential trade disruptions, especially between the United States and its neighbors Canada and Mexico. The current labeling rule allows these claims to be made so long as the product was processed in the United States, regardless of where it was born, raised or slaughtered.

Bill introduced to help young and veteran farmers
Two members of the House Agriculture Committee introduced a bill this week to assist new, beginning and veteran farmers receive crop insurance protections to help them develop success. Reps. Randy Feenstra (R-IA) and Angie Craig (D-MN) partnered to jointly introduce the legislation.

According to Feenstra, the Crop Insurance for Future Farmers Act would align the definition of "beginning farmer" in the federal crop insurance program to match most other beginning-farmer programs. For new and beginning farmers, this would extend reduced rates for crop and livestock insurance to 10 years from the current five.

Feenstra said, "I am proud to introduce commonsense legislation that extends vital crop and livestock insurance protections to new, beginning and veteran farmers to lower their insurance payments for their first 10 years in business. I am confident that this investment in the next generation of producers will pay dividends for our economic vitality, grow our rural communities, and keep Iowa farmland in the hands of Iowa farmers where it rightfully belongs."

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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