As Congress advances a massive climate and energy reconciliation package, a senior Republican on the House Ag Committee says he's worried about the bill's long-term ramifications for the farm bill and other ag policy efforts. 

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., told Agri-Pulse Newsmakers he is concerned the Inflation Reduction Act's conservation funding will lead policymakers to believe the topic needs little additional support.

“There are many colleagues of mine that will say, well, ‘we just addressed conservation, why do we need to do more?’” Davis said. “These are the types of debates that actually have taken place when you have what I call ‘off-reauthorization-packages’ like this IRA package. In the end, I don't think this package is going to be good for American agriculture, and in the end, I don't think it helps my colleagues to be able to get to a good compromise on the new farm bill, faster.”

The bill — which passed the House 220-207 Friday — includes just shy of $20 billion for four conservation programs, including Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. There's also funding for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service to conduct technical assistance.

Davis, who was on House Ag during the deliberations of the 2014 and 2018 farm bills, also warned lawmakers of the implications that could arise if extensions to the current legislation are passed.

“I certainly hope that we don't see an extension like we saw before I got to Congress, because I think it puts our farmers at a very tenuous time when it comes to input costs, when it comes to taxing issues, and when it comes to overreach coming from the executive branch,” Davis, who lost a primary election and will not be in Congress after the current term, said. “We need action now.”

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Daren Bakst, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation covering environmental policy and regulation, spoke as a Newsmaker panelist and noted the reconciliation package is one of several efforts to offer assistance to producers, arguing “there's so much money and legislation being passed in the ag space outside of the farm bill process.” 

“So, the question is if we're going to have the farm bill process why do we keep doing things outside the farm bill process?" he said. "So, I think it undermines the whole legitimacy of the whole five-year farm bill.”

Bakst was joined on the Newsmakers panel by LWP Consulting founder Laura Wood Peterson and James Glueck, a vice president at Michael Torrey Associates, to discuss the biggest challenges facing the farm bill and the impact of additional conservation investments.

To hear more from Davis, Bakst, Peterson, and Glueck about conservation, the Inflation Reduction Act and the farm bill listen to the latest episode of Agri-Pulse Newsmakers.

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