May 24, 2024
House committee passes $1.5 trillion version of farm bill

The U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee passed its version of a $1.5 trillion farm bill, though a Senate battle looms.

The bill, passed May 23, expands farm commodity supports but shrinks Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and reallocates nearly $20 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act intended for climate-smart farm practices.

The bill passed out of the Republican-led House committee, chaired by Glenn Thompson, 33-21. The House version must still be reconciled with a Democrat-led Senate version.

The House released a nearly 1,000-page draft of the bill earlier in the day on May 23.

“We thank Chairman Thompson and his staff for including so many investments for specialty crops in his bill, as well as the countless Democrats and Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee who expressed strong support for them during Thursday’s markup,” the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) said in a statement. “Investments like these are vital to maintaining and enhancing the competitiveness of our growers across the U.S. and to support a healthier America, and it’s essential they appear in the final conference report.

“Delivering a farm bill this year is imperative and will require bipartisan support on funding sources.”

The SCFBA, a national coalition of more than 200 organization representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products, is co-chaired by Cathy Burns, CEO of the International Fresh Produce Association; Mike Joyner, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association; Dave Puglia, president and CEO of Western Growers; and Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council.

NPC applauded the passage of the House bill.

“The National Potato Council thanks the House Agriculture Committee for including valuable specialty crop enhancements in the committee-reported bill,” NPC said in a statement. “Tonight’s action is an important step toward reauthorizing the farm bill and providing the certainty that the U.S. potato industry — and all of American agriculture — desperately needs. We encourage bipartisan efforts to enact a new farm bill this year.”

Congress failed to pass a farm bill in 2023. Federal hunger programs such as SNAP and farm programs are operating under a one-year extension of the 2018 bill passed last September.

Democrats in the House and Senate have expressed concern over cuts to food aid and the reallocation of climate funding.

“Despite areas of common ground, it is now clear that key parts of the House bill split the farm bill coalition in a way that makes it impossible to achieve the votes to become law,” Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow said in a statement.

Rob Larew, National Farmers Union president, applauded the bill’s passage while saying “significant improvements” will be needed for it to advance.

“H.R. 8467 includes a number of Farmers Union priorities, but those positive steps can’t come at the cost of the broad support that’s needed to pass a bill on the House floor,” Larew said in a statement. “We look forward to further activity in the farm bill process and will continue to advocate for family farmers and ranchers as the Senate Agriculture Committee develops its draft.”

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