The American Farm Bureau Federation came out in opposition to President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, while conceding that some of its climate provisions would be good for agriculture.
In an open letter to House members Tuesday, AFBF President Zippy Duvall said the “the totality of the increased federal spending in this bill coupled with the enormously burdensome tax increases leveled on businesses and individuals to pay for it will stifle economic growth and destroy jobs.” AFBF is the nation’s largest farm group.
The letter specifically criticizes provisions that would increase enforcement of worker safety and wage rules.
“The missteps of farmers and ranchers when navigating complex, oftentimes onerous regulations and laws should not serve as a funding mechanism,” the letter says.
The bill includes many elements called for by the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, of which AFBF is a founding member. But Farm Bureau officials had long made clear that they couldn’t support a bill that didn’t have bipartisan support.
The BBB bill has never had GOP support, so Democrats are moving it through the budget reconciliation process, which means the bill can pass the 50-50 Senate with a simple majority.
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"The agriculture industry and the committees of jurisdiction have held to a long tradition of bipartisanship that we have seen erode over this past year. We hope this does not negatively impact future farm policy discussions," Duvall wrote.
The bill includes agriculture provisions that are estimated to cost $81.7 billion over 10 years, including $27 billion in new budget authority for conservation programs. The bill would provide $25 billion for rural develop, clean energy, biofuel infrastructure and debt relief. Another $27 billion is set aside for forestry.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters Tuesday that the House would pass the bill by Friday, but the legislation is expected to be scaled back later in the Senate, where Democrats have to satisfy West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin's concerns.