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Government Relations & Washington Update

June 2024

House and Senate Agriculture Committees Make Progress on Farm Bill

The month of May provided significant movement as the House and Senate Agriculture Committees worked to advance legislation to reauthorize the Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill expired at the end of September 2023 and is currently operating on a one-year extension that ends on September 30, 2024. Successfully navigating the reauthorization process will be challenging. Spending in the new Farm Bill is expected to far eclipse any previous versions, with nutrition programs alone projected to cost over $1 trillion for the life of the bill. Managing competing funding interests, along with being a presidential election year, complicates the path to completing a new bill.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) has stated his desire to move legislation in the House as quickly as possible. To that end, he released his proposed version of the Farm Bill, entitled the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024, on May 17th. A full committee mark-up of the legislation was held on May 23rd. After a long, and sometimes contentious, meeting the House Agriculture Committee approved the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024 by a margin of 33-21. Four Democrats crossed the aisle and voted with Republicans to advance the bill. Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA) and the majority of his Democratic colleagues voted against the bill because of concerns with nutrition and conservation provisions. The next step in the process will be floor consideration by the full House.

In the Senate, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has released her proposed farm bill framework entitled the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act. While the detailed legislative text is not yet available, the committee has provided a bill summary and section-by-section analysis of the bill. Ranking Member Boozman has indicated that he will release his proposed Farm Bill framework the second week of June. The Senate Agriculture Committee has yet to schedule a committee mark-up and it is unclear if they will move prior to House floor consideration of its version.

The most contentious differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill center around nutrition and conservation. The House bill would limit changes to the Thrifty Food Plan, aside from inflationary increases, and require Congressional action for changes other than for inflation. Historically, TFP changes were cost neutral, until a recent change by the Biden Administration. Democrats strongly oppose these limitations and assert that they will amount to significant cuts to future benefits. In conservation, Democrats would like to use funding provided by the Inflation Reduction Act specifically for climate change programs, while Republicans favor using those funds for a broader spectrum of conservation initiatives.

The Research Title of the Farm Bill is one of the less controversial titles of the Farm Bill. Both the House and Senate versions would reauthorize key agricultural research and extension programs including the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and capacity programs such as Hatch and Smith Lever. While most Research Title provisions provide discretionary authority, there are several programs funded though mandatory spending. Both versions would provide mandatory funding for the Research Facilities Act to support infrastructure improvements with the House allocating $2.5 billion and Senate $100 million.

Below is a summary of key programs that would receive mandatory funding:

Program                                                                                   House                         Senate

Research Facilities Act                                                            $2.5 billion                  $100 million
Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research                      0                                  $250 million
Specialty Crops Research Initiative                                         $175 million/yr           $130 million/yr
Organic Research Initiative                                                     $50 million/yr             $50 million/yr
Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach                       $50 million/yr             $50 million/yr
1890s Scholarships                                                                 $100 million                $10 million/yr

Additional Farm Bill Information:


Bill Text
Title-by-Title Summary


Bill Summary
Title-by-Title Summary